Jim Hake of Spirit of America just posted an update to our fund raising efforts to send media equipment to the Marines in Iraq. Jim's got some ideas brewing (including sending sewing machines to put some of the folks in Fallujah to work). Jim is even going to Iraq to set up embedded SOA people to work with the Marines to determine how to best help the mission.
Marine LtCol. Lutkenhouse also sends a message about SOA and the future of Iraq. The official Marine link to the story is here and below are some key remarks from an email from LtCol Lutkenhouse:
...we will continue to engage the media leadership in Al Anbar (station managers, etc) in order to build relationships that will foster trust and cooperation. In fact, we are even exploring mentoring programs to help these broadcasters think and operate as independent news organizations/media enterprises. Case in point, one of the things we are finding is that their reporters don't really know how to be reporters (ask questions, think critically, and dig for the truth). As you well know, one of the legacies of the former regime is the pervasive fear that effects the decisions of Iraqis in all walks of life.Thanks, again, to all who participated in the last effort for SOA. You are making a difference.
As such, we are taking 'baby steps' to encourage both media professionals and local governments (town councils) to see the benefits of getting information to the public, to be seen making decisions in council, and to develop the instincts of an open society.
The end state here is to give the Iraqis in Al Anbar an open and independent broadcast media that will present the truth and serve as an alternative to the biased reporting from the likes of Al Jazeera. At the same time, this will also gain us access to the airwaves across our entire zone in order to help ensure that our message gets out.