UK military targets domestic opinion leaders

November 20, 2008

Read and digest, if you have the attention span (which most Coincidence Theorists seem not to have ;) ) Link to the full leaked MOD document at bottom of article.

The policy states that while the entire UK population is usually considered the “principal target”, among the “overlapping sub-sets across the spectrum of UK society”, the “most influential target” is “the limited group of people who hold disproportionate influence on the direction of government and public thinking and policy development”. This group includes “politicians and statesmen, members of ‘think-tanks’ and professional bodies, special political advisers, newspaper columnists, academics, analysts and journalists (who are increasingly voicing opinions on current affairs issues)”.

The policy dissects the UK forth estate with cynical realism, declaring that tabloids are for

“People [who] will buy a newspaper that will make them feel safe in their own opinions”

while “the more ‘intellectual’ papers, [the broadsheets], merely”

“inform readers who had already established their own opinion on matters”.

The report shows that the UK government has learned little from earlier scandals such as Operation Mass Appeal, where MI6 planted stories prior to the invasion of Iraq to boost support for the war[1]. In the United States such domestic propaganda operations are illegal and while there have been a number of violations, there has also been a number of subsequent investigations into those violations.

“Public support from the UK audience enhances a commander’s freedom of action, making him less vulnerable to external interference and overly restrictive Rules of Engagement (ROE).

Information that is likely to require comment or response by a Government Minister will require ministerial approval before release, e.g. significant collateral damage, multiple UK casualties and incidents of military fratricide.


Critical to this is the maintenance of political and popular support for HMG’s strategic objectives and any military activity in support of it. The MOD, working with other government Departments (OGDs), achieves this through the Information Strategy (Info Strategy), a dynamic and coordinated matrix of themes and messages targeted at specific audiences, using all communications channels.


National Broadcast Media. For the purposes of this publication, the broadcast media is divided into television and radio:

Television. In the UK television remains the main platform for news consumption. Digitised technology has radically altered TV newsgathering (known as Electronic News-Gathering (ENG)). An individual journalist can broadcast, via satellite, direct from a JOA, with no dependency on the military communication infrastructure. Beyond this, news documentaries and dramas make a significant impact on the longer term perception of the military and their actions in the minds of the wider public. In order to gain a lead in the eternal competition for ratings, increasingly TV news is as much about comment and entertainment as it is about comprehensive reporting. Satellite TV News channels are gaining increasing importance among the audiences in non-Western countries where the appetite for news in relentless. The acceptance of presented television pictures can give TV journalists news excessive power to influence both public and political opinion.

National Print Media. Unlike broadcast media in the UK, the print media are not obliged by law to be unbiased. All national print media have agendas, including a political stance. For the purposes of this publication, the print media is divided into national broadsheet and tabloid (red top). Research has shown that in the print media, there is a marked contrast between the readership and writers of the tabloids as opposed to the broadsheets.

“People will buy a newspaper that will make them feel safe in their own opinions”,

and that the more ‘intellectual’ papers, [the broadsheets], merely

“inform readers who had already established their own opinion on matters”.

Tabloid journalists often appear to be more subjective in their articles. In broad terms therefore:

a. Broadsheet Newspapers. In the UK, the broadsheet press is less widely read than the tabloids but are more likely to influence principal decision-makers and opinion formers. For this reason, their content will include considerable commentary as well as factual news reporting. b. Tabloid Newspapers. The tabloid press is widely read by a significant majority of the UK population. Dramatic headlines and short, pithy pieces are more likely to affect wider perceptions than the longer, considered pieces in the broadsheets.


UK Regional Media. Regional media is an excellent means of making connections between the wider population and individual Service personnel. The effect on the local population of a ‘home town story’, whether in local print, radio or TV, concerning the single member of a unit deployed on operations whose parents live locally cannot be underestimated. On occasions, these stories can have more impact on a local community than the national coverage of a distant war being fought for complex reasons.”


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