Gen. Charles Horner speaks at UWF lecture series
Gen. Charles Horner spoke at UWF Nov. 9 on the subject of "The Military and the Media: Events, relationships and why we act the way we do" as part of the Jerry Maygarden Lecture Series.
Gen. Charles Horner spoke at UWF Nov. 9 on the subject of “The Military and the Media: Events, relationships and why we act the way we do” as part of the Jerry Maygarden Lecture Series.
Horner was candid about how the military and the media should build and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. He stated that it requires trust on the part of both parties in order to allow the government an honest look at the American people, as well as enable the public to understand the military more comprehensively.
“The media is a window to the American people,” said Horner. “If you mistrust the media, you’re really mistrusting the American people.”
Horner continued by explaining to the audience that distrust of the media can lead to an altered view of the American people themselves. He stated that openness and two-way communication is vital to the success of any relationship, even one as occasionally volatile as the military and the media.
“The media is a tool that the military must use wisely, but it can also serve as a reprimand for mistakes we make.” said Horner. “No matter what business you’re in, you have to stand by what you’re doing, and a media of integrity will showcase that.”
Sonya Barr, a communication arts student in attendance, remarked that it was helpful to see things from the other side of the spectrum.
“It’s helpful to have the inside scoop,” she said.
In addition to his military service, Horner is a business consultant and author. He co-authored “Every Man a Tiger” with Tom Clancy. During his career with the U.S. Air Force, he was a commander of two wings, two air divisions, the Air Defense Weapons Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, 9th Air Force and the U.S. Space Command.
Horner continued his discussion by stating that image is important to the military’s effectiveness. He admitted that the military makes mistakes in judgment and strategy, and when the media exposes these faults, it is important not to attempt to conceal or distort the truth.
“If you make a mistake, it’s best just to own up to it,” he said.
One of the most important aspects of the modern-day military-media relationship is the Internet and social media, Horner explained. He reminded the audience that the enemy is often just as effective at using these tools as Americans.
“The Al-Qaeda use television programs such as Al Jazeera just as much as we use news programs over here,” said Horner. “The Abu Ghraib controversy was exposed because of the Internet. It’s a great tool, but it can also be detrimental.”
At the conclusion of his lecture, Horner stated several topics he believed the military needed to improve on in order to better its relationship with the media.
“[The military] has to learn to speak from our hearts, better integrate media with our strategies, understand the culture we’re dealing with and don’t spin or manufacture truth.”
Created by the Florida House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker John Thrasher, the Maygarden Lecture Series was established in 2000 in honor of House majority leader Jerry Maygarden for his service to the people of Florida. For more information, visit http://uwf.edu/govt/jerrymaygarden.cfm.