How Combat Journalism Should Look
If you’re wanting to be a “War Correspondent” you need to do it right. You gotta tell the truth, but you can’t tell all of the truth because you know…OPSEC and all. So for lack of a better way to explain it…from a grunt who is now a writer and would love to go overseas and be a war correspondent because hey, I just might get to shoot at bad guys again, I’m going to tell you guys how you should report from the battlefield on an action that U.S. forces took.
First off it’s gotta be past tense. Can’t be broadcasting that tomorrow we’re going to go drop our hairy balls on some Taliban warlords face, and give him time to either prepare or skedaddle. Second, be accurate, but vague. We won, they lost. Don’t lie, but you don’t need to tell everyone that PFC Asshole dead checked a dude by punting his nutsack across the room, wasn’t satisfied and dropped another round or two into the guy. Nobody needs to know that. You don’t know if PFC Asshole had a friend die because he didn’t dead check. It’s not your place to judge. Which brings us to point number three…
Thirdly, don’t judge. You’re not a judge. You’re a reporter and probably one with a really limited understanding of the real and actual danger you’re in as well as the experiences of the dudes you’re trusting with your life. Your life depends on these dudes you’re embedded with…it’s in poor form to tell them how to do their job when their very performance of said job is keeping you from seeing if you might be able to finagle 72 virgins outta your creator when you meet him.
It really is quite simple. Don’t be a knob and you’ll be fine.
As I wrote earlier in a Facebook comment thread, literally your report should look somewhat like this.
“Well, I’m here in this shithole country that everyone knows we’re in and I’m with U.S. Forces (see no unit name, OPSEC). Yesterday (see past tense) we ninja’d up on some shooty bois who were blowing up schools, polling stations, and trying to kill us. Once we got up on them, the unit (again no unit name) went balls to the wall killing these dudes. Speaking on behalf of the bad guys, I definitely wouldn’t f*** with our forces (again no unit name), I’m certainly not going to f*** with them (see not judging the people keeping me alive). The mission went off without a hitch and if this is how all of our units perform, we’re definitely winning this fight against this dictator or group of assholes. Holy shit are we winning. Back to you in the studio, Steve!”
See how painstakingly simple and stupid that is. That’s what America wants to hear. We’re winning. They’re losing. None of us are getting hurt and they’re all dying. Bing. Bang. Boom. And also if your war correspondent used to be a grunt…let him shoot a few bad guys for old times sake.