Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Recruiting in the News

I'm trying to figure this one out. The headline for the story is "Group combats military recruitment in schools". The writer, Rachel Schleif, mentions a meeting held by an anti-recruiting group which drew seven attendees, to try and combat recruiting in schools. The group told the attendes this.
Taking students off campus to treat them for lunch, dinner or paintball; setting up rock-climbing walls at schools or local parks; becoming involved in after-school sports to form relationships with children; or taking students out of class to a military-themed trailer parked outside the school.
This occupied 1/4th of the story's length. The rest of the story talked about how the recruiters are obeying the rules the school sets, how parents are able to opt-out and not receive calls, and how the recruiters try and include the parents in as much as possible. The Recruiting Journal couldn't have written a more positive account of recruiter behavior. It even quotes school officials saying that they have no issues with the recruiters visiting their schools, and how the recruiters stay to their scheduled dates and locations. Now I would like to point out to the parent whose child opted out as a freshman that, well, recruiters aren't going to, knowingly, call a freshman or a sophomore. It's a waste of our time since, well, they're about three years from being old enough to enlist with parental consent.

I guess "High School Principal Receives No Complaints About Recruiters" wouldn't make for a very compelling headline.

Unfortunatly "National Guard Recruiter Charged with Sexually Assaulting 2 Female Recruits" is. All I really have to say about this is "Number Two and Number Four."

The big story I've found in this past week has been that the military increased its use of bonuses for recruiting by 25% this past year. Unfortunatly, the story is inaccurate. The writer, Lolita Baldor (a name I've heard before), goes ahead and lumps the money paid out for bonuses and the money paid for college together.
According to data obtained by the AP, the Army and Marine Corps allocated a bit more than $500 million in bonuses and college fund payments...
Emphasis mine. So, what accounted for the increase? Was more spent on bonuses or was more spent on college? Also, what type of bonuses? Were they retention bonuses or enlistment bonuses? Did the data obtained by the AP break it down like that, or did the DOD simply give it to them totaled together? Since Ms. Baldor doesn't bother to differentiate between the two it's impossible to tell.

Of course, the biggest news in this isn't the 25% increase in the budgeting of incentives, but the fact that, yet again, the Army met its recruiting goal for the year. As a matter of fact, all the services met their goals. This tidbit of information gets buried halfway down the story though. To find a headline about how the Army made its recruiting mission, you need to be a Cheesehead. The Daily Kenoshan from Kenosha, WI actually bothered to do the original reporting the AP apparently couldn't be bothered with. Milwaukee Battalion's A&PA must be on the ball to have arranged an interview with the local press and their battalion commander the day after the new FY. Good on them.

I've now read three stories by Lolita Baldor from the AP. All three of them made some basic error or omission regarding the aspect of the military about which she was writing. First she doesn't bother to tell us that her source for a story has a fundamental conflict of interest and bias in a story about military waivers. Then she apparently forgets to account for the fact that her story on the same subject a year later has totally different numbers. Finally this story she doesn't bother to, or is unable to, actually substantiate the claim she makes in her first paragraph. She doesn't actually provide proof that the Army increased its bonus spending by 25%. It could be more, it could be less. Whatever is it though, since the AP said it, the meme will be that the Army spent 25% more on bonuses.


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