Maj. Jakob Bruhl over at Soldiers in the Blogosphere is beginning a series of posts outlining his recommendations to the Army regarding policy towards milbloggers. His first recommendation is that the Army encourage soldiers to use new media. He provides a number of reasons why this is a good idea, many of which are not really unique to the Army, but rather, are reasons why any organization should engange in the realm of social media.
One of his reasons, however, related to a thought that I have been mulling for a while. That is, he argues that “it [soldier blogging]increases the ArmyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s credibility.” But is the opposite the case? Does the Army increase milblogger credibility and legitimacy?
Part of the reasoning behind the recommendation to encourage blogging is the fact that most milbloggers are generally supportive of their commanders and their mission in the content they post on their blogs. Thus, milbloggers can provide a valuable service to the Army, from providing more of a human, individual face, all the way up to “defensive blogging Ã¢â‚¬â€œ engaging existing blogs to complete or correct a story or just add their personal insight and experience.”
But a major source of milblogger legitimacy and credibility with the public at large is their perceived lack of official status as spokespersons. Thus, if milbloggers are successfully co-opted as a sort of massively “multiplayer,” decentralized, distributed public affairs corps (an outcome with which I get the impression many milbloggers might be OK), could that erode the legitimacy and credibility that they currently enjoy with the public? In short, could “success” actually lead to “failure” in the long term?