of Defense (DOD) public affairs professionals are often under utilized
or used inefficiently (Allen, Beaufort, Choates, & Devine, 1999). Accordingly,
for public affairs practitioners, history and experience help shape the
opinions of the role they play in carrying out the PA mission in garrison
and abroad. Since the Vietnam War, many American military professionals
have been sensitive about the topic of media involvement in combat operations
(Fialka, 1991). Media coverage of the Viet Nam conflict brought this
wars’ intense imagery into the homes of all Americans, and allowed for
the agenda and opinions of the press to undermine foreign policy.
Thereafter, the military distanced itself from the media because their
leadership believed “biased journalism had, by itself, turned the American
public against the Vietnam effort. And if given half a chance, newspeople,
especially ratings-hungry television people, would portray the military
in a bad light”(Fialka, 1991, p. xi).
many Americans and servicemembers fear negative media bias toward the military.
Accordingly, this ideology has expanded the role of public information
offices, and created a military profession dedicated to providing command
information to troops, while handling media interest in garrison and on
the battlefield. However, this ideology has also created an obstacle
for public affairs practitioners. Many times public affairs practitioners
are the first to go, but last to know. They deploy with commands
to carry out the public affairs mission, without being given the opportunity
to coordinate in the planning. More importantly, public affairs practitioners
are often viewed by servicemembers and leadership as external media, trying
to discredit the individual, unit, or service.