This Saturday, January 21 at 7pm, the local ABC affiliate WZZM 13 will air a 1 hour special, Class 186: The Making of a Marine Officer, a program that has been heavily promoted this week by WZZM 13. From the clips shown on WZZM 13 and on the Class 186 website, it is clear that the program, which takes viewers through boot camp, an obstacle course, graduation, and even rifle school. The emphasis of the show is on the patriotism of the recruits profiled, and in many ways is little more than a 1-hour recruiting tool for the military. The program was produced by Marine Times, a newspaper owned by WZZM 13s parent company, Gannett, a media company owning a large number of newspapers and television stations. The program is being heavily promoted and aired on Gannetts television stations nationally, having already been shown by Gannett stations in Tampa Bay, Phoenix, and Jacksonville. Gannett sees nothing wrong with this cross promotion of its products across mediums and even went so far as to give the managing editor of Marine Times, a special recognition award for his work producing the program. According to the award press release, the program was distributed to all Gannett stations for airing.
That WZZM 13 and its parent company Gannett are willing to devote an hour of time to a program unquestioningly promoting the military is not surprising given their record of not . WZZM 13s coverage of the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has included almost no critical coverage of current US military policy according to a recent study by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID). According to the GRIID report there were only a few stories that included any anti-war voices during the 90-day study period on WZZM. In light of the GRIID study and the blatant pro-military special that WZZM 13 is running, we encourage people to contact the station. It might be an instructive exercise to call and ask them if they will run a 1-hour special that features anti-war voices working on counter-recruitment efforts or one that takes a critical look at the Iraq War. It might also be interesting to ask them to explain why they decided to run this special and if Marine Times is paying for it to air. If so, it is important to point out that any and all advertising or videos produced by the US Military are subsidized by US taxpayers. If US tax payers are paying for it to air on channel 13, then they can surely provide free airtime for an opposing view point. WZZM 13s News Director is Tim Geraghty who can be reached at 616-785-1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRIID will be recording the show to have a copy available in their library, and will also conduct an analysis of the show that will be posted online on their News Dissection page.