Last night, scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a Change.org petition many of my military buddies had signed and were sharing. The petition called for SOFREP to remove from YouTube the video they posted of the Niger ambush and the deaths of Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. La David Johnson from YouTube.
Our newsroom debated whether we should run a story or opinion piece about this. Should we kick another publication while they are down? Should we cover this at all, and give that video even more publicity?
Shortly after returning home from Fallujah in 2004, a book came out, written by an older Marine combat veteran, that mentioned the death of one of my unit’s Marines in graphic detail. We were livid; to us, it was an unforgivable sin.
That was a single sentence, and not helmet-cam footage that graphically portrays the death of American servicemen. Watching the video, I was even more incensed and heartbroken for the families of the fallen than I'd been a decade and a half ago.
I pondered whether I should sign the Change.org petition, but a few lines caught my attention that I don’t agree with: “We don’t need this kind of graphic, visual reminder of the inhumanities of war. The only people who need to be ‘educated’ on what happened are the people who are in a position to make changes so that this doesn’t happen again. Not the general public.”
While discussing this issue on our company chat, one of our writers, a fellow former Marine and Afghanistan veteran, wrote:
I don’t agree that showing the costs of war — to include mortal injuries — is always over the line. I think it pushes the boundaries of what we’re used to seeing, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a value to showing it, at times. And I’d make the argument that we as a country are too comfortable with a sanitized view of war and its costs. That said, I don’t think the SOFREP video does that well at all, meaning [it doesn’t] provide context and analysis based on their extensive military experience and include audio clips and short video where appropriate.
By simply posting a piece of enemy propaganda without context or analysis, SOFREP acted more like Faces of Death, the controversial, voyeuristic horror film showing people dying, than a journalistic endeavor. But when does documentation of death or suffering become journalistic, in the public interest?
Personally, I want the American public to have to confront the reality of today’s wars. At the same time, the families of the fallen have suffered enough.
As I said, I don’t have the answer, but I want to know what you think — and how you believe a media company should navigate this difficult terrain and balance our sacred duty to Gold Star families and our responsibility to ensure the American public isn’t kept in the dark.
U.S. troops rejoice — the midnight curfew for service members in South Korea has been temporarily suspended, as command evaluates if you can be trusted to not act like wild animals in the streets of Pyeongtaek.
Late last month Activision's Infinity Ward dropped a teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — a soft-reboot of one of it's most beloved games — and just two weeks after the May 30 reveal, the game developer unveiled some new details on what's in store for the first-person shooter's multiplayer: Juggernaut and ghillie suits!
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - At least 30 people have been killed in a triple suicide attack in northeast Nigerian state of Borno, state emergency officials said on Monday, in the biggest mass killing this year by suicide bombers.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Your humble Pentagon correspondent has never been one of the "cool kids" in the world of Washington media, and never has that been more evident than in my failed attempts to interview Navy veteran Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and one of the roughly 50,000 Democrats running for president.
To the media, Buttigieg is so hot right now that he could melt the stealth coating off an F-35 – which is actually not as hard as it sounds. He is fluent in more forms of communication than C-3PO – in April, he offered his condolences to the French people for the Notre Dame fire in perfect French. He's had no problem getting media coverage from all sorts of media outlets, including National Public Radio, the New York Times, or even Fox News.
Your intrepid Pentagon correspondent was briefly on Mayor Pete's schedule, when his director of campaign operations Max Harris set up an interview for Feb. 26. But less than an hour later, Harris emailed back to say he might have to reschedule the interview due to scheduling conflicts.
Four months of silence followed. (To be fair, his campaign manager Lis Smith did confirm in March that Buttigieg had formed an exploratory committee to run for president.)