Bloggers & the information war
Monday's Washington Post reported on the use of bloggers and cash donations as part of the effort to influence the perception of the war in Iraq. It's not really news, but it provides a good in-depth look at the war over information. There was a mini-scandal a month or two ago when it was learned that American military units had been paying Iraqi journalists, possibly in exchange for favorable reporting. U.S. officers quoted in the Post story insisted that they do not control or try to manipulate the Iraqi news, and if any of them tried to do so, a huge scandal would no doubt erupt. In a blog post at threatswatch.org, one of the bloggers cited, Bill Roggio, objected to some inaccuracies in the story with regard to journalists are embedded, and what he believes is a suggestion by the Post authors that he was a tool of the military. I didn't get that sense from the article, which seemed to me to be balanced in its scrutiny. Roggio does draw attention to past sins by Western journalists, however, which might explain why he is so sensitive to criticism by them:
In the past, the established media has paid Iraqi stringers that have turned out to be insurgent or al-Qaeda operatives. And they have provided cover for Saddam's brutal regime in order to maintain a Baghdad office. Never have these improprieties caused the media to question the motivations of their counterparts as the motivations of my embed have been questioned.
Hopefully, anyone who questions U.S. efforts in the information war will take into account the need for doing so. The Post story also features another one of the "embedded" bloggers in Iraq, Michael Yon, an intrepid independent photojournalist. I took note of him on Nov. 23.