Department of Defense Memo Tries to Fix "Lax," "Sloppy" Media Relations


The Story

Last week, Defense Secretary Gates issued a memo with new rules for how the military should deal with the media.  Although Gates denies a connection between this memo and the recent Rolling Stone article that got General Stanley McChrystal fired, Gates says openly that the military has "become too lax, disorganized and in some cases flat-out sloppy in the way we engage with the press..."

Interaction with the Media

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Discussion Starters

  • Do you believe this memo is unrelated to the McChrystal situation?  Why or why not?
  • What impact might this memo have on the news media?  How do you think the press might react to this?
  • Why would Gates choose a memo instead of another medium for his message?  Was this the best choice?

Assignment Ideas

  • Analyze Gates' memo according to the principles in Chapters 4 and 5.  To what extent does this memo measure up to business writing guidelines?   
  • Rewrite Gates' memo to reflect the business writing principles in Chapters 4 and 5.  What improvements can you make?