Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another office anecdote

So, the other day I talked about how my office deals in information. Well, another thing we do is facilitate the civilian media's access to that information.

Most of the time, like 75 to 80 percent, we have the information the media wants at hand or can produce it with a little research. There are other times that the media wants to talk to a subject matter expert, or that we want the media to do so. Sometimes they need to speak with the person directly involved in whatever they are trying to write about. We also facilitate these interviews.

Since we are the go between agency for this kind of stuff, if something goes wrong, perceived or real, on either side of the operation, we're the ones who hear about it.

If it's a big deal, it's usually because it's a big deal. The reporter may misspell a name, get a phone number wrong, mischaracterize a fact ... etc. The interviewee, may not show up, not give a good interview, become belligerent ... etc. So on the backside of facilitating, we sometimes have to assuage feelings or fix problems.

I'm pretty cynical when I hear a military person compain about being mischaracterized in a news story. Unless it was a hatchet job. But 9 times out of 10, its a positive story where the soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman gets wrapped around the axle about something minor.

Case in point: A senior officer came in our office today and compained about a story done about him. He had been awarded a relatively high level award for his duty while deployed to a war zone. Here, Stateside, his job is administrative. The writer made an allegory to the officer's movement from administrative to warrior by comparing that tranisition to Clark Kent becoming Superman. It's a bit of stretch, but come one, it's a local paper and it's a personality feat.

The guy was less bugged by the fact that he used that allegory than he was by a term used to describe his job here. The reporter referred to him as ... a paper pusher.

Blah, blah, blah, I took offense to that, blah, blah, blah, no one in the military can really be considered a paper pusher, blah, blah, blah, mock outrage ...

Dude. Get over it. It was a positive story.

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