Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Military and the Media.

When the temperatures dropped below -40 at the Forward Operating Base (basically a makeshift camp with dozens of tents and a ton of snowmobiles), soldiers were quite willing to step inside my heated tent and chat with me.

I’
ve had some mixed reactions while travelling with the troops. Most have been willing to talk to me but many have their reservations about the media.

“I dealt with a number of journalists in Afghanistan,” one Corporal told me after I introduced myself.

“Really?” I replied.

“Yeah. I F***
ing babysat them the entire time," he said.

One Warrant told me firmly he’d never talk to the media after the Somalia Affair. When I asked why, he jokingly said he’d tell me later in life when I become a “big time” reporter and, now that I think about it, probably means never.

I asked a Master Corporal what she thought of journalists and she told me the last time she did a lengthy interview with a reporter about being a female in the Forces, the paper only published one off-hand remark about her not having to shower with the boys.
Honestly, I didn’t know how to respond to their distrust of the media. They have valid points.

I’
ve learnt first-hand that the Canadian military is wary of journalists. I don't know why or when the disconnect happened, but I do know that I’ve had to earn a lot of people’s trust on this trip and I think it’s been a positive experience for both the soldiers and myself.

One of the Warrant Officers I spent a lot of time with sat down with me and talked about him renaming the Forward Operating Base to "FOB
Braun" after soldier, David Braun, who was killed while on tour in Afghanistan. When the other media came out for the day and wanted to talk to him, he refused.

It’s a great story and we’re both glad it’s being told.

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