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NCJ Number: NCJ 194943     Find in a Library
Title: Competing for Media Control in an Age of Asymmetric Warfare
Author(s): Mils Hills ; Rachel Holloway
  Journal: Jane's Intelligence Review  Volume:14  Issue:5  Dated:May 2002  Pages:20 to 23
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 4
  Annotation: In this media age, Western powers must compete with "asymmetric" networks to put their message across to target audiences and defend their positions to domestic populations.
Abstract: This article first profiles the Serbian information operations (IO) conducted during NATO's Operation Allied Force. This involved a Belgrade-based advertising agency called Kompani, which launched a project entitled Shelter Production (SP). SP created a number of videos designed for television broadcast in Serbia and beyond, as well as for MPEG download anywhere on the global information infrastructure. Because they were made in English, they were comprehensible to second and third generation members of the Serb diaspora in North America whose support was sought. The videos were clever, slick, entertaining, and shocking in their efforts to undermine NATO's rationale for intervening in the conflict. NATO's use of leaflet drops in order to convey the message of a commonality of interests with the Serbian public was obscured by the communication from SP, which used occurrences of civilian casualties, attributed to NATO air strikes, to counter the West's intended IO theme of amity. One lesson taught in this IO campaign is that there must be some early warning of the potential of adversary state or sub-state actors to directly influence the decision-making processes of domestic citizens. A second lesson is that the era of "dumb" exchanges of words between personalities mediated by the global media as the dominant form of relationship during conflict is over. This also heralds the end of effective and coordinated press conferences as the defining feature of the successful information campaign. A third lessons speaks to the importance of IO in asymmetric conflicts. The ability of nonstate as well as state actors to maximize their influence through the use of targeted information, as opposed to violence, has not yet received adequate attention. Alternative media, such as Al-Jazeera in the Arab world, demonstrate the need to broaden concepts of target audiences that involve a perceptive understanding of communities as opposed to simply providing the same news format in different languages. The challenge lies in competing for coverage without further alienating audiences by simply providing a translation service. The continuing tailoring of messages to nuanced audiences must replace the pushing of a single "line to take" to a mass media.
Main Term(s): Domestic Preparedness
Index Term(s): Public Attitudes/Opinion ; Media coverage ; Media support ; Propaganda
Publisher URL: 
Type: Issue Overview
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
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