Department Recognizes ‘Best of Best’ in Communication Media
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md., May 11, 2007 Servicemembers whose words and pictures best communicated the Defense Department’s activities to its internal audience and the public last year were recognized today at the institution that trains the nation’s military journalists, broadcasters, photographers, graphic artists and videographers.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page addresses the audience at the Department of Defense Communicators of Excellence award ceremony at the Defense Information School, Fort George G. Meade, Md., May 11. Photo by Spc. Charles R. Brice, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Dorrance J. Smith, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, served as host for the 2007 Department of Defense Communicators of Excellence Award Ceremony at the Defense Information School here.
In welcoming the award recipients and an audience of military and industry communicators, Smith noted the “highly competitive” nature of award programs in the various communication disciplines that culminated in today’s ceremony.
“These individuals, chosen by industry professionals, are truly the best of the best in their fields,” he said. “Through their lens or with their pens, their work helped communicate to the world the true sacrifice and commitment of the men and women of the U.S. military.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page, a Vietnam-era Army veteran and a 1970 Defense Information School graduate, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. He contrasted the communication challenges of today’s all-volunteer military with those of the days when many servicemembers had been drafted.
“These days, when we don’t have a draft, you don’t quite get that same potpourri of humanity, shall we say, that we used to get in the services back in the old days,” he said. “We don’t have quite as much of the cultural cross-current -- people moving back and forth between the military and civilian life -- that we used to have.”
This makes the work of communicators inside and outside the military more important, he said, “because we do more than just cover the news or send out press releases. We try to help bridge those gaps between people and help people understand each other that much more.”
Page recalled his days at DINFOS, as the Defense Information School is known, and said he marvels at the technological advances that have taken place since he wrote his stories at a manual typewriter and developed his photographs in a darkroom. Though the Vietnam War became known as “the Living Room War” because television brought it to American homes every night, Page said, the news footage was days old by the time it reached the U.S. audience.
“People forget about that,” he said. “We take so much for granted these days, so much we didn’t have then,” and he ticked off a series of technologies that are commonplace today not only in news rooms, but also in everyday life.
“Thanks to the Internet, everybody can be their own publisher, their own broadcaster,” Page said. “Sometimes when I’m Web surfing, I think that everybody already has.”
But with technology putting the world at so many fingertips, he said, it’s important to recognize excellence.
“All this new technology is nothing… without somebody to provide the content: the words, the pictures, the voice, the story,” he said.
The World Wide Web now features “blogs” numbering in the tens of millions, Page noted. “But how many of them are good?” he asked. “How many of them are worth turning to each day? How many of them are reliable? That’s where excellence comes in.”
In addition to recognizing excellence in various specific categories within the communication disciplines, the ceremony recognized the military’s top individual communicators of the year:
-- Military Graphic Artist of the Year: Air Force Staff Sgt. Rick Dunaway, Air University Television, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
-- Military Photographer of the Year: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock, Air University Television.
-- Military Videographer of the Year: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Gary W. Burdett, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston Air Force Bae, S.C.
-- Military Broadcast Journalist of the Year: Air Force Senior Airman Richard Gonzales, Detachment 9, Air Force News Agency, Bitburg Annex, Germany.
-- Military Print Journalist of the Year: Air Force Senior Airman Brian A. Stives, 366th Fighter Wing, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.