No friend of Frank...

My blog-friend, Boston Maggie , was invited to the Pentagon as part of a milblog team to talk about access with the respective service heads. I am disappointed to report that the response form the Navy was disappointing. She provides (below) some detail to her visit. The Navy presenter is ADM Frank Thorp, who is the Navy’s top PAO (public affairs officer) known as the CHINFO.

Let me be blunt, RDML Thorp blew it, almost as badly as he botched the initial interviews as an O6 regarding PFC Jessica Lynch's fate. I am continually amazed at how many flag and general officers seem to forget how important good PR is in today's world, even the small elements. You can bet that this meeting will be repeated across the net. Having been an individual to see first hand how a little news story can ruin well laid plans (Dixie Chicks), I am appalled at this officer's behavior. At the very least you represent the citizens of the nation (essentially his boss) and were due much more courtesy.

I am also disappointed in RDML Thorp as he has had a front row seat on many groups which have been analyzing the new paradigm for communication. In fact he sat on the Defense Science Board on this very topic in January of 2008. The recommendations from that board were to recognize the sea changes and take action now.

The amount of positive play that military affairs gets outside of the "trade" journals (Army / Air Force / Navy Times, etc.) is almost zero. What friendship does he expect to strike up with the perpetually anti-military NYT? The WSJ is more concerned about the impact of reduced military spending and could care less about insights generated by journalists like Bing West, Michael Yon and the like. And yet these are the very people who end up providing the feedstock for the main stream media.

The DoD and the Navy in particular do not get the new media. They almost had it during the Iraq war as they provided access during the major combat stage. However, once the tanks stopped rolling and the tough foot patrols began, their support dried up. Even professional journals like Proceedings have started to dip their toe in the new media waters. I am a minor league MILBLOGGER, but my perspective is first person and has been witness to some amazing events, which got no mention in the MSM.

I had intended to reprint the whole of her e-mail story, but will await her publishing it on the web. Suffice to say, the cat’s out of the bag and hopefully RDML Thorp will take a moment and reflect on how easily impressions are made or broken in our new viral, global media world

Until the military recognizes that they must pay as much attention to the small stories as the big ones, we will continue to find short shrift via official channels.