To perform these duties well, you need to master
verbal, oral and visual communication techniques. You
must be a constant reader who is always abreast of
current events in and out of the Navy. You must know
enough about the Navy to interpret and translate its
activities and actions intelligently to the civilian public.
In the performance of their duties, journalists are
expected to produce smooth copies of their own
material. Therefore, you must be a qualified typist who
meets the established standards for speed and accuracy.
You also must be computer literate.
Finally, a journalist must have the ability to learn,
and your main learning objective must be learning to
write well. You must be better than average in your use
of the English language. You must learn to write quickly,
plainly and accurately. Your aim is to turn out news copy
that can be used by a newspaper or radio/television
station with a minimal need for editing or rewriting.
The major areas in which you will be expected to
develop knowledge and skills include newswriting,
editing and the layout and makeup of Navy publications.
Other areas are the principles of printing, radio and
television, photography and administration.
As you progress in experience, maturity and service
seniority, you likely will become the trusted executive
of the PAO. As such, you will find yourself performing
many of the functions of a PAO. This will be particularly
true if your boss is a collateral-duty PAO. Collateral duty
means that the officer has other assignments that are
considered primary duties. In such cases his primary
responsibilities often allow only minimum time for
public affairs work. Therefore, you also must learn the
theory and practice of public affairs policy.
A COMMON MISPERCEPTION
There is a tendency for Navy journalists to believe
they are part of Americas free press and thus part of
the investigative journalist corps. This notion could not
be further from the truth.
The moniker Navy journalist is misleading
because the JO is a public information specialist
not a free press journalist. Navy journalists are assigned
to command information, public information and
community relations duties. When assigned to public
information staffs, Navy journalists write releases to tell
the Navy story and to respond to queries by the
investigative free press. When assigned to command
information staffs, Navy journalists may write for
civilian enterprise (CE) or funded command
newpapers what the industry terms in-house
Just as a writer for commercial industry would not
write investigative articles concerning his company for
the in-house publication, Navy journalists would not
write investigatively concerning their own individual
commands or the Navy. Navy journalists may tackle
controversial social issues in print or on videotape, but
they must avoid works that attack or injure, or that give
the impression of attacking or injuring their commands
or the Navy.
NEWS IN THE NAVY COMMUNITY
New Navy journalists are often confused about their
role in the Navy community. Most are familiar with the
print and electronic media back home. They are used to
the civilian reporter investigating, or reporting on the
investigation of fraud, waste or abuse in the local,
county or state government.
In arriving at their first duty assignment, they find
a community that seems to be somewhat similar to that
of their hometown. The CO seems to be the mayor, and
the chief master-at-arms represents the chief of police.
The COs staff fills the rest of the government positions.
There are schools, stores, businesses and recreational
However, Navy journalists must learn that the CO
is not so much a mayor as he is the president of a
company. Likewise, the Navy community is really much
like a company town. Your job within this community
is to enhance morale, to increase readiness and
productivity, to be the voice of the CO to his community,
and to inform, educate and entertain the Navys internal
To accomplish the assignments previously
mentioned, the Navy journalist must have certain
personal characteristics. Some are general
characteristics that contribute to success in any rating,
but others are an integral part of the public affairs
profession. The characteristics of appearance, voice,
military bearing, courtesy and personality will become
more evident as you read this TRAMAN and complete
the accompanying nonresident training course (NRTC).
Good personal appearance is especially important
to the Navy journalist. Most of your work will be