The Pentagon’s rules of media engagement
Journalist or belligerent? What the Pentagon’s Law of War manual means for conflict reporting; plus, tweeting the news.
The Pentagon has recently published new rules for its personnel on how to deal with the media, including guidance on how to treat reporters who cover wars.
The Law of War manual has entries on many issues relevant to combat reporters, such as suggesting that they seek permission from the authorities or risk being labelled “unprivileged belligerents” – akin to spies or saboteurs – should they raise suspicion in the field.
The wording of the manual has led many media organisations and media freedom groups calling for the rules to be revised, saying accurate reporting could be hindered. They also warn that authoritarian governments could adapt some of the rules for use in their own rule books. However, the US Department of Defense says the manual has been “misunderstood by the press.”
Discussing the Pentagon’s new rules for media engagement are: Vanessa Gezari from Columbia University; Major General, Charles J. Dunlap, the former Deputy Judge Advocate General of the United States Air Force; Micheal Oreskas, the head of news at National Public Radio; and defence correspondent at The Independent newspaper, Kim Sengupta.
Other media stories on our radar this week: the murder of a US TV reporter and cameraman is captured live on air; Sri Lankan authorities arrest army personnel in pursuit of a journalist who has been missing for four years; and Italian journalists receive death threats after reporting on the funeral of a mafia boss.
Twitter: Beyond the hashtag
We also take a close look at a tech giant that has made inroads into the news media: Twitter. While not a news outlet in the traditional sense, since the 140-character microblogging platform was conceived in 2006, it has become an essential app on every journalist’s smartphone.
Twitter has had a hand in making more than a few headlines itself and it now has its own Head of News – time for the Listening Post’s Flo Phillips to take a look beyond the hashtags.
Continuing the theme, we close with a musical homily on the ubiquitous pull of social media. It was 140 years ago, in 1875, that the composer George Bizet compared love “to a rebellious bird” in his opera, “Carmen”. Now, in 2015, the Belgian musician Stromae has teamed up with French animator Sylvain Chomet to warn of how our love for the “tweeter bird” is slowly taking over our lives.