Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Blurring of PR and Psy-Ops: Daniel Schulman has an interesting piece in the Columbia Journalism Review on the breakdown of the relationships between public affairs professionals and practitioners of the dark arts of psy-ops in the U.S. military.

It’s long, but worth reading. Among the money quotes: “There is a difference in mindset between soldiers who specialize in various military information disciplines. Public affairs officers view credibility as a responsibility, while information warriors tend to see it as a commodity. This mentality is summed up in an unofficial strategy paper… suggest[ing] that public affairs could be the ‘ultimate IW [information warfare] weapon’ since it is ‘so stalwart in its claims of only speaking the truth.’ It quotes an unnamed information warrior who says, ‘The reason I tell you the truth is so that when I lie, you will believe me.’”

That’s why blurring the lines between the two is so dangerous. Still, it’s good to know the public affairs folks are putting up a fight. “There are some people who will say we have to do whatever it takes to win this war,” said Pamela Keeton, a former military public affairs person. “I think there are places where we need to draw the line — and one of them is using the news media for psy-ops purposes. It will get to the point where the news media won’t trust anybody, and the people won’t trust what’s being quoted in news articles.”

And the story ends with a quote from the West Point cadet prayer, which seems particularly appropriate: “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole truth can be won.”


  • At 7:12 PM, Blogger Shel said…

    There's more to this story:


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