This really should not be a surprise to anyone. And I was expecting this. I just read documents more slowly than others.
Buried among the 92,000 classified documents released Sunday by WikiLeaks is some intriguing evidence that the U.S. military in Afghanistan has adopted a PR strategy that got it into trouble in Iraq: paying local media outlets to run friendly stories.
Several reports from Army psychological operations units and provincial reconstruction teams (also known as PRTs, civilian-military hybrids tasked with rebuilding Afghanistan) show that local Afghan radio stations were under contract to air content produced by the United States. Other reports show U.S. military personnel apparently referring to Afghan reporters as “our journalists” and directing them in how to do their jobs.
When will these guys learn? And just how much did AID know about the military PSYOP?
I know of good and solid journalism programs in Africa, Central Europe and the Caribbean that could not exist without financial help from AID. These are programs that seriously train independent journalists. (One recipient even asked for copies of the SPJ Code of Ethics to use as a blueprint for their own code.)
Then these PR people move in and muck up the whole thing. How are the Afghans supposed to learn what it means to have a media independent of government control or to be free from corruption when the U.S. government is in there paying off “journalists?”
First posted at Journalism and the World.
Oh, and if you are not sure what “SNAFU” means, look it up. The full meaning is about the most appropriate thing I could think of in this case. It’s a military term. And it describes the situation.