Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The McChrystal media-military mashup: a few preliminary lessons for generals

1. Know who you are talking to. Reporters have track records. A good public affairs officer will know that record and provide you with articles with highlighted quotes.  2. Establish ground rules. If you have an embedded reporter, you need to say something like, anything you hear inside my tent is off the record until ...

.ygor/flickr
.ygor/flickr

1. Know who you are talking to. Reporters have track records. A good public affairs officer will know that record and provide you with articles with highlighted quotes. 

2. Establish ground rules. If you have an embedded reporter, you need to say something like, anything you hear inside my tent is off the record until you check it with us. This goes triple for any event involving alcohol.

3. Reporters doing one-off profiles for magazines such as Rolling Stone and Esquire have less invested in a continuing relationship than do beat reporters covering the war for newspapers and newsmagazines. That doesn't mean you should avoid one-off reporters, but it does mean that they have no incentive to establish and maintain a relationship of trust over weeks and months of articles.

1. Know who you are talking to. Reporters have track records. A good public affairs officer will know that record and provide you with articles with highlighted quotes. 

2. Establish ground rules. If you have an embedded reporter, you need to say something like, anything you hear inside my tent is off the record until you check it with us. This goes triple for any event involving alcohol.

3. Reporters doing one-off profiles for magazines such as Rolling Stone and Esquire have less invested in a continuing relationship than do beat reporters covering the war for newspapers and newsmagazines. That doesn’t mean you should avoid one-off reporters, but it does mean that they have no incentive to establish and maintain a relationship of trust over weeks and months of articles.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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