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Marine Corps Trains Future Reporters

By Capt. Jaret Heil | | December 19, 2002

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Professor Mary Quigley teaches a graduate level journalism class at New York University, and she recently enlisted the aid of an unconventional assistant-instructor for a day.  Major David C. Andersen, Director, Marine Corps New York City Public Affairs Office, was given two hours to explain to Quigley's students what his office does and how the military handles the media. 

Andersen's class included a simulated press conference in response to a staged scenario with the students fulfilling the role of the reporters.  The mock scenario was a helicopter crash following a training exercise in California that claimed the lives of 12 Marines. The students were graded not only on the story each wrote at the end of the interview, but also on the quality of questions they asked. 

Quigley's students come from a broad range of experiences, but she continues to broaden their horizons through creative classes.  Her students have spent a day with local Police Officers, politicians and now, military service members.

The goal for Professor Quigley was to familiarize her students with how the military handles reporters so she came to the Marine Corps for assistance. "Of all the branches of the armed services, the Marines do public relations the best," said Quigley.
After the class the students said they were surprised by how open the Marine Corps was with information.  Andersen explained the few instances when the Marine Corps must withhold information temporarily from the press.  Once the rules for the release of information were explained, the students were surprised how their preconceived concepts of an uncooperative military were shattered. 

Mackenzie Parks is a first semester graduate student at New York University and is in Quigley's Writing and Reporting Workshop class.  After listening to Andersen, she feels that the most important lesson learned is how willing the Marine Corps is to cooperate with the media.  She also feels that her newfound understanding of the military's motivation to cooperate with the media will prove vital to her future career.

"The military needs the media just like any other organization or company does," said Andersen.  "We have to convince the mothers of America to trust us with their sons and daughters if we are going to keep enlistment rates up.  We also need public support in order to carry out any operation.  The media plays a vital role in both of these situations."

Quigley's students are now better informed on how to interact with military when pursuing a story, and this is beneficial for both reporter and the Corps.
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