May 2015 – Media and Military: Natural Enemies forever?
In March this year I was in Vanuatu to report on the devastating cyclone and the aftermath. I saw people struggling for their life, I saw lots of destroyed buildings and men and women hopelessly waiting for support by their own government.
And I saw what a great job the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) did to help these people. Without the support of the women and men of the RAAF the situation on the islands of Vanuatu would have certainly much worst than it was anyway.
Being not only a reporter/correspondent but the Vice President of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA) as well, I (still working in Vanuatu that time) sent an email to the media people with the Ministry of Defence. I suggested an excursion of a number of foreign correspondents to an RAAF base near Sydney in order to show the readers, listeners and viewers worldwide how the RAAF people work and how they feel when supporting victims of natural disasters.
I was patiently waiting four weeks without getting any reply before sending another email: “As I did not get any reply at all and as I know that Australian Defence Forces are well known for their cooperation with the media I am afraid you did not get my mail.” Only minutes later I got a response: “I apologise for the delay, this was passed on to RAAF and I have reminded them and someone should get in contact with you shortly.” This is exactly 40 days ago now. – And I’m still waiting…
Since 1992 I had been reporting an numerous operations of armed forces all over the world – and I can see important developments when it comes to the relationship between military and media. Sure in some countries the press-officers are in fact anti-press-officers. Other states realised, that cooperation with the media has countless benefits for both sides.
Where does Australia stand?