I Want My Rendon Group Profile!
So which reporters seeking to embed with the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan have been profiled by the Rendon Group? Rendon, the CIA-linked communications firm contracted by the Pentagon’s public affairs shop to evaluate potential embeds’ work for its usefulness or hostility to U.S. war aims — a story broken wide open by Stars & Stripes – isn’t saying.
Writing at True/Slant, P.J. Tobia managed to acquire his Rendon-derived profile. It’s impressively nuanced. Not only does it evaluate the political leanings of the publications that publish P.J., it distinguishes between his “highly narrative” style and hard news, judging that his “thought provoking” pieces often “as[k] questions rather than making conclusions.” The verdict?
Based on his previous embed and past reporting, it is unlikely that he will miss an opportunity to report on US military missteps. However, if following previous trends, he will remain sympathetic to US troops and may acknowledge a learning curve in Afghanistan.
Backhanded compliments? I don’t know. But I do know that I’d like to see my profile. After all, I’ve embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and earlier than that I took a military-escorted tour of Guantanamo Bay. So, thinking I’d first try to go in through the in door, I called Rendon.**
I’ll make a long story short. The woman I spoke with wouldn’t acknowledge if they’ve profiled me; wouldn’t clarify if they’d give me my profile if they have; referred me to a statement on their Website as their only comment at this time; wouldn’t provide me with her name; wouldn’t allow me to speak to a different person; and took my email to keep me posted if and when they’d tell me more.
Ah well. Here’s that statement, issued Aug. 26:
We are happy to provide more information with regard to recent reports that discuss the scope and nature of our support to the Public Affairs Office of US Forces in Afghanistan. The Rendon Group (TRG) competed for and was awarded a contract in 2009 to support US Military Public Affairs in Afghanistan. As part of the media analysis requirement for the contract, TRG provides relational analysis of news content specifically focused on themes of critical importance defined as US interests — stability and security, counter insurgency, operational results — to name a few. The information and analysis we generate is developed by quantifying these themes and topics and not by ranking of reporters. The analysis is not provided as the basis for accepting or rejecting a specific journalist’s inquiries and TRG does not make recommendations as to who the military should or should not interview.
The media analysis provided at the request of the public affairs office, was constructed from open source information with the intent to enumerate and quantify key aspects (topics, subjects) of coverage relevant to the Afghanistan mission. Any reference to positive, negative or neutral in our analysis is derived by quantifying the content in relation to mission objectives. Example: Positive to Neutral coverage could mean that it contains stories that are either neutral to or positive to a specific military objective (stability, security, captures, etc). Conversely, Neutral to Negative coverage could indicate that content in stories were negative in relation to mission objectives (kidnapping, suicide bombing, etc). This is commonly referred to as content analysis and is a key component of media analysis.
The value and expertise that our team brings to the client is our long standing experience and innovation in providing real-time analysis of the global information environment — in this case real-time quantitative analysis of key themes and topics deemed critical to the Afghan mission and defined by the client. In the field of public affairs our first principle is that information should be communicated in a timely, truthful and transparent manner. TRG has been a pioneer in the field of real-time analysis of traditional and social media. We are very proud of the work we have done helping customers, and in particular the US Military, understand and communicate in today’s real-time global information environment.