Starfleet ships should have media officers

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Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Zor » 2018-02-07 12:36pm

One of the things that Star Trek likes to state is the wonder of exploration. That's a big reason why Starfleet is out there with all those ships boldly going and all that Good Stuff. But here's the thing: Starfleet has about 30,000 Ships or so in total, including medical ships, supply ships, transport ships, construction ships, runnabouts and similar. But even if we ignore that that every last one of them was a Galaxy class ship with a thousand people on board that still means that only 30 million people out exploring, or one seven hundredth the population of Earth. This means that for a large section of the population exploring the frontier is something that they can't do. Even if we assume that those other guys have other things that they love doing this does not mean that they won't be interested.

As such, one thing that would be a logical thing to do is for there to be on all the Starfleet exploration ships is a Media Officer. Said officer would be trained in media relations and have a special room designated for his/her use with some cameras, a view-screen and an a pair of chairs. Said officer would interview the crew, alien ambassadors and similar on a regular basis and send videos back to Federation Space on a regular basis so they can get up on Fed-Tube, Spacebook and Vulcan-Reddit. Sure, for some things like when Starfleet is being the Federation Navy they would not discuss their activities for security purposes. But they should send regular reports for public consumption of the non-super sensitive stuff if this is such a big deal.

Hell you'd also have Starfleet fans who tune in for every report the Enterprise (or the other such ships) releases. Thus you can have a tasteful analog for actual trekkies in the meta sense.

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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by GuppyShark » 2018-02-08 02:28am

We see a little of this with Enterprise, but it's very adhoc. You're right. It could also be an interesting story framing device to be able to have occasional interviews a la The Office. I swear there was a sci-fi show that actually had a media officer or an embedded journalist but I can't put my finger on it.

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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Gandalf » 2018-02-08 03:55am

Wouldn't they just work through whoever does PR at Starfleet HQ and its regional branches? Presumably they would get the official logs, sensor data, etc and turn it into cool stories for people.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-02-08 07:16am

They might well want to do 'pre-processing' or be able to create authentic "report from the USS Spaceship" videos from time to time. There might be a mix; big bulky explorers would be able to support having someone aboard to do this job at least part-time, whereas smaller ships or ships whose missions are less photogenic would not.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-08 10:35am

GuppyShark wrote:
2018-02-08 02:28am
We see a little of this with Enterprise, but it's very adhoc. You're right. It could also be an interesting story framing device to be able to have occasional interviews a la The Office. I swear there was a sci-fi show that actually had a media officer or an embedded journalist but I can't put my finger on it.
Don't know if this is the one you're thinking about, but nuBSG had some journos on the civilian fleet that were always bugging Rosslin and Baltar in the early part of the show.

Certainly the massive Enterprise-D and the Starfleet culture of TNG could have accommodated a media officer of some sort. And it wouldn't have hurt if there was one on DS9, who might have acted as a PR person as well.

But I don't really see a need for a media officer on the majority of Starfleet ships. Some sort of internal crew morale officer who sets up events for the crews and picks out the day's slate of entertainment to play on the internal network, sure. But someone who puts together interviews, stories, broadcasts etc for public consumption? Not really.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by FedRebel » 2018-02-09 08:45pm

Problem with this idea is OpSec, Starfleet does have a habit of withholding information...Cor Caroli V, The Briar Patch, the quarterly coup attempt...

So having an embedded reporter isn't exactly going to be productive

Anyway, the Federation News Service is State run. Isn't the whole Commissar's masquerading as "Counselors" thing enough implied dystopia for Star Trek?

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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-02-09 10:12pm

FedRebel wrote:
2018-02-09 08:45pm
Problem with this idea is OpSec, Starfleet does have a habit of withholding information...Cor Caroli V, The Briar Patch, the quarterly coup attempt...

So having an embedded reporter isn't exactly going to be productive

Anyway, the Federation News Service is State run. Isn't the whole Commissar's masquerading as "Counselors" thing enough implied dystopia for Star Trek?
Which episode of TNG had Troi report crew members to the Secret Police?
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Gandalf » 2018-02-10 06:32am

Also, what's dystopian about state run news service?
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Zixinus » 2018-02-10 09:47am

Gandalf wrote:
2018-02-10 06:32am
Also, what's dystopian about state run news service?
Usually that it is the only one, has a monopoly on reporting, has secret (or not so secret) state-mandated narratives and it is heavy on propaganda.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Gandalf » 2018-02-10 10:39am

Zixinus wrote:
2018-02-10 09:47am
Gandalf wrote:
2018-02-10 06:32am
Also, what's dystopian about state run news service?
Usually that it is the only one, has a monopoly on reporting, has secret (or not so secret) state-mandated narratives and it is heavy on propaganda.
I'd love to see some more elaboration on that, considering that state owned organisations like the ABC/BBC/CBC tend to be pretty good in their news work. Better than the propaganda of Murdoch at least. :P

But back to the show itself, tell me more about the Federation's news services, considering how we see fuck all of them and a few Federation/Starfleet characters have mentioned the idea of press freedom and journalistic independence.

"When I was in school, I was editor of the Academy newspaper for a year. I monitored subspace transmissions. I got reports on some of the first activity by the Maquis against the Cardassians. I wrote an editorial about it, and the students became polarised on the issue. They debated the pros and cons, and gained an insight into the entire history of the political rebellion. Now, that's the power of journalism."
"What did your professors say when you told them you were going to publish the editorial?"
"I didn't tell them. It's the job of a journalist to be independent."
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-02-10 12:25pm

Aside from Harry's Academy paper, we also have Jake's utter disbelief at being censored by the Dominion while under occupation.
JAKE: Excuse me, Mister Weyoun.
(Weyoun stops a Jem'Hadar beating Jake up.)
WEYOUN: Oh, please. I prefer just Weyoun.
JAKE: That's the kind of detail people like to know. Would this be a good time?
WEYOUN: For what?
JAKE: For the interview we talked about. You know, for the Federation News Service.
WEYOUN: Oh, I'm afraid that will be quite impossible.
JAKE: Why?
WEYOUN: Because I've read your previous articles and they left me with one inescapable conclusion. You are biased against the Dominion.
JAKE: What gave you that idea?
WEYOUN: You keep referring to us as the station's, quote, occupying force, unquote.
JAKE: What's wrong with that?
WEYOUN: It has a negative connotation. All your articles are filled with pejorative terminology, which is why I've been forced to withhold their transmission.
JAKE: Are you telling me that no one in the Federation read my reports?
WEYOUN: If I don't send them, they don't read them.
JAKE: What about freedom of the press?
WEYOUN: Please tell me you're not that naive.
Now, considering that this isn't behavior practiced when Starfleet is running things, I think freedom of the press is practiced in the Federation and strongly protected.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Zixinus » 2018-02-10 01:44pm

I'd love to see some more elaboration on that, considering that state owned organisations like the ABC/BBC/CBC tend to be pretty good in their news work. Better than the propaganda of Murdoch at least. :P
A state-run news agency is not necessarily dynostopian in of itself, or a bad news agency. How bad a state-run news agency is would depend heavily on the government and how media-focused they are. But if you have a dynastopian government, then a state-run news agency would follow automatically as a reflection of that. It would be central, dominating both in terms of journalism and broadcast, would not be contradicted by anyone in the mainstream (so if there are other news agency, they would like not allow a better job than the official word). As people believing the same ideas is important to a large society, the official news agency would be part of general problem of a dynastopia.

A better way to say it, is that if there is a tyrannical state, you'd bet that the state-run news agency will be the only game in town or the only mayor one.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-02-10 02:02pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-02-09 10:12pm
FedRebel wrote:
2018-02-09 08:45pm
Problem with this idea is OpSec, Starfleet does have a habit of withholding information...Cor Caroli V, The Briar Patch, the quarterly coup attempt...

So having an embedded reporter isn't exactly going to be productive

Anyway, the Federation News Service is State run. Isn't the whole Commissar's masquerading as "Counselors" thing enough implied dystopia for Star Trek?
Which episode of TNG had Troi report crew members to the Secret Police?
The imaginary ones that exist in TNG-bashers heads.

Edit: I'd also like a citation for "the Federation News Service is State run", and the implication that there is no non-state run press. Seeing as we have canonical examples of non-state-run media and journalism.*

I'll particularly note Jake Sisko on DS9- a journalist (independent, so far as I'm aware) who was shocked when, during the occupation, the Dominion censored his reports. Which tells me that state censorship of the press is not routine in the Federation.

And no shit, the Federation has classified information. That doesn't preclude embedded reporters, any more than the US having classified information precluded having them in Iraq.

*For that matter, there's nothing inherently despotic about having a public broadcaster, unless you consider Britain an authoritarian state.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Lord Revan » 2018-02-11 03:30am

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-02-10 02:02pm
FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-02-09 10:12pm
FedRebel wrote:
2018-02-09 08:45pm
Problem with this idea is OpSec, Starfleet does have a habit of withholding information...Cor Caroli V, The Briar Patch, the quarterly coup attempt...

So having an embedded reporter isn't exactly going to be productive

Anyway, the Federation News Service is State run. Isn't the whole Commissar's masquerading as "Counselors" thing enough implied dystopia for Star Trek?
Which episode of TNG had Troi report crew members to the Secret Police?
The imaginary ones that exist in TNG-bashers heads.

Edit: I'd also like a citation for "the Federation News Service is State run", and the implication that there is no non-state run press. Seeing as we have canonical examples of non-state-run media and journalism.*

I'll particularly note Jake Sisko on DS9- a journalist (independent, so far as I'm aware) who was shocked when, during the occupation, the Dominion censored his reports. Which tells me that state censorship of the press is not routine in the Federation.

And no shit, the Federation has classified information. That doesn't preclude embedded reporters, any more than the US having classified information precluded having them in Iraq.

*For that matter, there's nothing inherently despotic about having a public broadcaster, unless you consider Britain an authoritarian state.
Or Finland or most other European countries IIRC, since they all have an equilevant to BBC (Yle in Finland, yle used to stand for yleisradio which means "public radio").

I think people's PoV is distorted by the fact that we rarely if ever see things for a point of view of civilian member of the Federation, most fedration characters we see are either Starfleet or relatives of starfleet members.

Also for all we know there is the option for embedded journalists, but also need to remember that 90% (if not more) missions Starfleet missions would be a new defination of "boring" for the general populace. With things like first contact with new civilizations or some amazing discovery being a very small portion of what a Starfleet crew does.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-02-11 07:13pm

Well, I do doubt that embedded journalists are common, since if they were, the Enterprise D seems a logical place to put them.

Although... maybe the E-D handles too much classified stuff?

Putting them on a mission that is glitzy, but not likely to be classified, is probably best. Maybe something like... observing weird anomalies, or anti-piracy operations, or something.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-02-11 10:14pm

Or they get an embedded journalist who they can trust to not pass on classified information.

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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Lord Revan » 2018-02-12 04:36am

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-02-11 07:13pm
Well, I do doubt that embedded journalists are common, since if they were, the Enterprise D seems a logical place to put them.

Although... maybe the E-D handles too much classified stuff?

Putting them on a mission that is glitzy, but not likely to be classified, is probably best. Maybe something like... observing weird anomalies, or anti-piracy operations, or something.
I'd say it's more the case of having "boring stuff" rather then "classified stuff" even wierd anomaly observation or anti-piracy operations would be mostly waiting for something exciting things to happen.

That's why said "option" basically Starfleet could attach a journalist to mission but isn't likely to do that unless there's something that would clearly have an audience ready, like formal first contact, major diplomatic conference or anomaly that's "on the clock" so there's little to no waiting.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-12 06:36pm

Lord Revan wrote:
2018-02-12 04:36am
That's why said "option" basically Starfleet could attach a journalist to mission but isn't likely to do that unless there's something that would clearly have an audience ready, like formal first contact, major diplomatic conference or anomaly that's "on the clock" so there's little to no waiting.
This makes the most sense to me. As in any real-world wet navy, pretty much 90% of what is done on a Starfleet ship will be -boring-. Maintenance, routine drills, not-so-routine drills (that they may not want being written about anyway), crews killing time by doing stupid stuff, occasional experiments gone awry, etc. Eight percent will be 'hurry up and wait' moments of tension. Only about two percent or even less of the time will be newsworthy.

The only possible exception might be if you have a ship specifically designated for diplomatic missions doing things like inducting new worlds into the Federation, bringing technology to low-tech planets, relief expeditions, staging new technology, that kind of thing. I could see designated media officers or journalists being a permanent part of those crews.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Zixinus » 2018-02-13 03:21pm

Wouldn't media officers be also present for internal consumption on sufficiently large ships? A Starfleet ship probably has lots of information it needs to tell its own staff and there needs to be management of internal morale.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-14 11:44am

Zixinus wrote:
2018-02-13 03:21pm
Wouldn't media officers be also present for internal consumption on sufficiently large ships? A Starfleet ship probably has lots of information it needs to tell its own staff and there needs to be management of internal morale.
As I understand it, on wet-navy ships one of the officers usually deals with that kind of thing, and morale management is more or less just a regular thing with officers and NCO's. I don't particularly see any reason why Starfleet would be very different. There's not much reason to have a person *exclusively* devoted to internal media. Certainly on a massive base like the one we saw in the latest nu-Trek, there might be someone filling that function, but on a ship... nah.

One thing that should have been done a little more on TNG I think, though, is showing more of the relationship between all the civilians supposedly on board, and the Starfleet crew and officers. We only ever really saw the Starfleet side of things, when there were supposedly at least several hundred? civilians on the Enterprise-D. It would've helped highlight that it's not just about a pseudo-military in space.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Lord Revan » 2018-02-15 07:36am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-02-14 11:44am
Zixinus wrote:
2018-02-13 03:21pm
Wouldn't media officers be also present for internal consumption on sufficiently large ships? A Starfleet ship probably has lots of information it needs to tell its own staff and there needs to be management of internal morale.
As I understand it, on wet-navy ships one of the officers usually deals with that kind of thing, and morale management is more or less just a regular thing with officers and NCO's. I don't particularly see any reason why Starfleet would be very different. There's not much reason to have a person *exclusively* devoted to internal media. Certainly on a massive base like the one we saw in the latest nu-Trek, there might be someone filling that function, but on a ship... nah.

One thing that should have been done a little more on TNG I think, though, is showing more of the relationship between all the civilians supposedly on board, and the Starfleet crew and officers. We only ever really saw the Starfleet side of things, when there were supposedly at least several hundred? civilians on the Enterprise-D. It would've helped highlight that it's not just about a pseudo-military in space.
I don't think it's ever mentioned in canon but IIRC the official (but non-canon) numbers give it at 700 starfleet personal and 300 civilians (roughly), that said most of those would probably be families of starfleet personal so they have a semi-military viewpoint on things anyway.
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Re: Starfleet ships should have media officers

Post by Master Six » 2018-02-18 09:14pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-02-14 11:44am
One thing that should have been done a little more on TNG I think, though, is showing more of the relationship between all the civilians supposedly on board, and the Starfleet crew and officers. We only ever really saw the Starfleet side of things, when there were supposedly at least several hundred? civilians on the Enterprise-D. It would've helped highlight that it's not just about a pseudo-military in space.
Funny that the show with a ship where there are a whole bunch of civilians onboard (for some God-forsaken reasons) was run by people adamant that there be so little in the way of developing storylines and community-building. As it was we only got smatterings of civilian life and their interaction with Starfleet, like the elementary school (which we only saw because of Alexander), that Bolian barber, and Guinan. I'm sure the DS9 writers could have come up with some cool ways to work with them, but ah well -- Guinan was at least used well in the TNG context.

As to the OP's question, I think trying to incorporate a media officer would be more trouble than it's worth. Everything would have to go through Starfleet Intelligence anyway to be heavily redacted before it saw the light on the media outlets. The media officer would just be sending in reports to HQ, which is what the captain already does. Any media relations work would likely be organized from within Starfleet HQ or the Federation government, once they've gone through all the reports.
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