Monday, February 25, 2008

PSYOP and Video Journalism – Inevitable Linkage

There has been quite a bit of media turmoil here in Silicon Valley and, while I guess I never paid much attention to it, my recent training as a Red Cross PAO has made me more sensitive. While the plight of newspapers in the US is not necessarily important to the PSYOP community, there are some aspects of the current trends that are worthy of examination.

On is the expansion of the role of Video Journalist. This surfaced in a recent announcement by Young Broadcasting, owner of about 10 stations including one here in the San Francisco Bay Area. In and amongst comments on their profitability was this one:
“Increase use of the video journalist approach to expanding news gathering capabilities and introduction of server based systems to efficiently produce newscasts.” Which was extracted from a news release dated February 21, 2008. (

There can be no question that imagery is powerful, perhaps even more powerful than words. PSYOP needs to harness high impact means to get our messages across and increasingly video images are the weapon of choice. Images convey emotion and emotion is the currency of behavior.

PSYOP needs images to incorporate at all levels from local to global. Some local situations may benefit from the use of local images, but not all. Under the wrong circumstances local images would serve to inflame already overheated passions. At other times local images might serve as graphic and tangible proof of the truth and validity of the messages that the PSYOP campaign is delivering.

Local images may also be powerful demonstrative evidence for regional or international use. If the images aren’t needed immediately or in the short term, they can be categorized and stored for later use. In some cases the images might be used to draft materials for release upon a certain event. For example images of a massacre might be employed as a part of the campaign used after the capture or prosecution of an individual for war crimes or terrorist activities. Critical events such as the capture of major enemy players are time sensitive and must be capitalized on quickly in order to have the most impact.

In some of my previous work I’ve strongly argued for the cross training PSYOP personnel with Public Affairs. The skills of a video journalist are just as important in PSYOP as they are for the PAO. I believe we should integrate these skills into PSYOP AIT using COTS technology and training materials. It is likely that there are some very good materials available on the Internet (e.g. the Apple Digital Campus at:

It also strikes me that there ought to be some doctrine development to provide general guidance for Tactical Teams especially in AOs like Afghanistan so that they can effectively harness the power of local images and to insure that they are sensitized as to the need of capturing appropriate images and forwarding them up the chain of command. It would also be appropriate to issue guidance concerning the sharing of images between the PSYOP Groups and the JMISC.

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