Title deliberately blunt as a reminder that we should keep the main thing the main thing.
There’s a kerfuffle about attribution and distribution in a photo shot by Michael Yon that was rather iconic. Yon’s got an interesting fight on his hands. I remember a photo someone close to me took of the Kam that wound up on one of those dot-com military sites that hoover up all the military photos; and an unpleasant series of emails resulting in a decision not to go all lawyer on it. (This is one of the reasons I’m not much of a joiner for those kinds of military reunion or information websites; it’s still a business you’re dealing with, and some are better than others.)
That said, Yon’s a different fish and perhaps one of those people destined to always be in some kind of kerfuffle. I don’t know the whys or wherefores of embedding pictures, but I do see this:
- That photo is the most valuable photo Yon has ever taken in terms of impact and money. The value to Army is not as great. I do not think other photos with this impact shot by Newspaper Guild members get this kind of treatment, and my public affairs work (such as it was) clearly delineated attribution and only disseminated with permission–and if someone changed his mind I would stop dissemination and explain.
- Army has fouled up several information warfare skirmishes that fall outside of traditional public affairs, mostly involving new media. The Vietnam-era Follies were partially because Army did not understand the implications of what it was doing, and this is a big yellow light to a strategic comms thinker that we’ve got problems in the middle management of strategic comms even if Yon’s merely being a pain.
- For all Yon’s prickliness, he’s been a great friend to the Army because of his evocative and honest writing and photography. Army may make small bonus points with traditional press, but loses big by being the Bad Guy here.
Bottom line? Bottom line is different, though.
I wish the little girl hadn’t been attacked by those evil people.
I’m sorry the photo is so evocative, because the little girl in the major’s arms died. The major clearly kept more little girls and boys and their families from being murdered, by working hard on deployment to destroy those nihilist bombers. But this little girl couldn’t avoid the car that drove right at her and her friends, and for this I am sad.
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