Every couple of months, one of the local media outlets report on the state of military recruiting in West Michigan. All the local outlets have done it–WZZM 13, WOOD TV 8, and The Grand Rapids Press—now WXMI is the latest with a story titled “Military Recruiting Numbers On The Rise”
Like most stories on this topic, WXMI’s story follows a familiar script. They set the context by talking about the economy in Michigan:
“Michigan continues to have the worst unemployment rate in the country at 12%. Jobs and industries are disappearing and a lot of people are struggling to find new work. But for one field, there’s been a bit of a boom; military service.”
They talk to a recruiter who says that the military offers a good option in the current economy:
“Gunnery Sgt. Tony Hernandez said ‘At one point it was a little challenging for us to recruit in that aspect but with the economy these days people are realizing you know that the military is a better option.'”
The story then talks to a recent recruit who talks up the military in light of the current economy and the money that the military will provide for school.
As is always the case in these stories, WXMI never bothers to investigate these claims. Is the military really a good option for job training? The jobless rate for veterans is at 11.2% and numerous studies have shown that military skills don’t transfer well into the civilian job market. Similarly, many veterans don’t get the promised money for school.
Similarly, the story doesn’t talk to anyone with a dissenting perspective. For example, WXMI could have talked to activists from a group working to counter military recruiters in area schools or a veteran who had failed to get their promised benefits.