Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute

Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute

June 14, 2007 08:00 ET

Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute: Media and Military Both at Fault for Information Shortfall

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - June 14, 2007) - The Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI) released a report today, The Information Gap: Why the Canadian Public Doesn't Know More About its Military.

Sharon Hobson is a Canadian correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly since 1985 and the 2004 recipient of the Ross Munro Media Award.

The report looks at the coverage of the Canadian Forces involvement in Afghanistan, from the initial dispatch of ships in October 2001 through the succeeding year's deployment of land forces. It concludes that while interest in the Afghanistan mission has been intense, neither the military nor the media have provided the Canadian public with sufficient information to understand what it is the Canadian military is doing.

Hobson says that while the "embedding" program (in which members of the media live alongside the troops they are covering) has been successful in many respects, it has resulted in too narrow a focus on combat, which is a single aspect of a wide-ranging mission.

"Unfortunately, media outlets too often feel they have covered the Afghan question if they have an embedded reporter filing regular reports. And the military seems to think that if it has an embedding program, it reduces the need to keep the Canadian-based media informed."

Hobson suggests that both professions need to re-assess their approach to informing the public about this significant undertaking with its long-term repercussions. She concludes, "what is needed is more imagination, both in the way potential stories are developed and in how the military responds to demands for information. Inevitably there will be mistakes, both in interpreting information and knowing whom to trust. The great good, however, is a well-informed public."

The complete report The Information Gap: Why the Canadian Public Doesn't Know More About its Military is available online at www.cdfai.org.

CDFAI is a "think tank" pursuing authoritative research and new ideas aimed at ensuring Canada has a respected and influential voice in the international arena.

CDFAI produces and distributes research papers on a quarterly basis.

Contact Information

  • Sharon Hobson
    Canadian Correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly
    CDFAI Fellow
    (613) 623-0225
    Email: shobson@magma.ca
    or
    Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute
    David Bercuson, PhD
    Director of Programs, CDFAI
    (403) 969-3632
    Emaill: bercuson@ucalgary.ca
    Website: www.cdfai.org