The function of military public affairs is to manage the release of information and serve as a conduit from the military to the media and the public. Managing the release of information reduces the chance of military personnel violating operational security or personal privacy. Today, however, service members have instantaneous and direct communication from the battlefield to virtually anywhere in the world. Cell phones, e-mail and instant messaging allow service members to stay in touch with loved ones. Complicating the matter, however, is the advent of military Web logs – personal Web sites, also known as “blogs.” Military bloggers are service members, veterans, and their families who are writing uncensored content that anyone in the world – friend or foe – can read. In effect, they have become unofficial conduits of information to the public and the media. However, we know nothing about the messages that military blogs are communicating or the influence they are exerting. How do milblogs tell the military story, and what messages do they convey? Are they perceived as credible? At their worst, milblogs may affect international relations or undermine security. At their best, milblogs may serve to counteract enemy propaganda, influence positive change for the Defense Department, educate the public about the military’s culture, people and values, and increase national and international support for the services and their missions.

In the hopes of adding to the body of research on blogs, this paper will examine the phenomenon of milblogs. Specifically, it will employ content analysis to determine what messages military blogs are communicating, how credible they are, and what emotions they elicit. In addition, it will use an experiment to compare milblogs to mainstream Defense Department and civilian online news venues to compare framing effects, emotional response, credibility, and effects on peoples’ perceptions of the military and its personnel.