It's funny how some of my recent posts dovetail. Earlier this month I did a post on the media and the military. A small example of the media's general cluelessness with regard to military matters appeared in our local newspaper.
The USS New Orleans, a warship, was commissioned in New Orleans last Saturday. It marked the first time since World War II that a ship was built in its namesake city.
The article, in Monroe's The News Star, is here: http://www.thenewsstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/
When I read the story one thing struck me: they never mentioned the ship's class! This is something that should have been mentioned. This isn't the fault of The News Star, because it was an Associated Press story (unless the name of the class was pulled for space reasons). The story mentioned the people of New Orleans, and such trivial — and relatively unimportant — details like its height and the fact that it has two gymnasiums. Missing, along with the class, was any mention of what the ship was for! They mentioned that it could carry 800 marines. That's nice, but is that trivia or is that its main function?
Enter Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_New_Orleans_%28LPD-18%29
The USS New Orleans (LPD-18) is a San Antonio class amphibious transport dock (also called a landing platform dock, which is why it has the designation LPD) is, according to Wikipedia, "a warship that embarks, transports, and lands elements of a landing force for expeditionary warfare missions". Basically, it transports marines to a combat area and deploys them in landing craft to the beaches. At the same time, it carries helicopters and/or tilt-rotor aircraft for close air support.
This technical stuff helps you understand what the ship does, and what the people of the United States spent its money on. Plus, it's interesting information (more interesting, to my mind, that it has two gymnasiums or is the length of "two French Quarter blocks). I had no idea, except for the comment about 800 marines, that the ship was something other than a guided missile cruiser or a resupply vessel.
It seemed to me that this little Associated Press article displayed exactly what is wrong with news today. Hard information is being replaced with soft news. More of the article was spent describing the effect on the city of New Orleans than on the ship itself, and what was mentioned about the ship was less informative than trivial. They didn't even mention that the vessel was actually launched over two years ago.
This reminded me of today's Non Sequitur comic (found at www.gocomics.com), which questions why soft news has replaced hard news:
As always, click on the picture to see a bigger version.
4 Good Years
8 months ago