An academic paper written in 2006 that attempted to familiarize high-level military staff with the concept of blogging and how the field might affect/help the U.S. military contained what will surely be perceived as a controversial statement. As reporter at Danger Room:
A study, written for U.S. Special Operations Command, suggested “clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers.”
The article goes on to detail mostly mundane aspects of blogging and how it might affect the military. It discusses the differing opinions that already exist within the U.S. military regarding blogs, which range from “a collective waste of troops’ time” to the much more enlightened position shared by General Petraeus that blogs can act as both an information outlet (it goes unsaid that this outlet is necessary as a result of a hostile media) and a sounding board for troops. What the headline and the first sentence implied to me is that the military is possibly paying off prominent American blogs to tote the line for them. This isn’t supported in the article at all.
The only real elaboration on that juicy headline that Danger Room offers is in a large chunk of text that is largely unrelated to anything controversial toward the end of the article. For example, the second half of this large quote explains how it might be beneficial for the military to start its own blogs in order to get its message out. Not a very devious or shocking conclusion. When actually culling the headline quote from the text, Danger Room removes a key aspect of the statement with ellipses, effectively changing how the statement reads.
Even if there is no widespread preconception about U.S. use of propaganda, it may be easy for foreign audiences to dismiss the U.S. perspective with “Yes, but you aren’t one of us, you don’t really understand us.”
In this regard, information strategists can consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other persons of prominence already within the target nation, group, or community to pass the U.S. message.
Information strategists can consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other persons of prominence… to pass the U.S. message.
The two statements read a little different, don’t they? The first statement, taken in full from the original text with the previous sentence for further context, clearly illustrates that this effort is primarily focused on foreign nations/entities in order to bridge the credibility gap that hinders outside information sources in many countries, even if the offered information is accurate. The second, taken from the Danger Room article, removes the foreign concept from the discussion completely, giving wiggle room for nail-biting tin foil hattery.
There is a lot of filler and overly long quotations in the article. There was no reason to shorten the above quotation, save for a desire to promote sensationalism or sloppy reporting. If the story was meant to be about generalized explanations of the military’s evolving understanding of the blogosphere for the future, then lead it as such. It would have been just as interesting. Don’t provide conspiracy theory fodder by clipping context.