News: Falcon Brigade broadcaster helps Iraqi policemen share their story
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
RAMADI, Iraq - Iraqi Police in the Anbar province have been conducting their own missions, capturing terrorist group leaders and securing the province; requiring less assistance from U.S. forces as time goes on. However, negative reports from unsupportive news agencies and journalists using bad information can sometimes overshadow this good news. The police decided to stop relying on external media sources and take matters into their own hands to ensure the public knows the truth.
Enter Sgt. Tony McCaslin, public affairs broadcaster for the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, and native of Fairfield, Maine. An award winning broadcast journalist, McCaslin was chosen to provide an instructional class to the media team at the Anbar Police Directorate in Ramadi, Iraq on Sept. 15. As part of the 2/82’s mission to advise, train and assist Iraqi Security Forces, McCaslin taught the policemen basic videography skills to improve their ability to tell their story.
“The better their stories are, the more people will want to watch them,” McCaslin said. “And if the people know the Anbar Police have the facts, the people will trust them.”
Lt. Ali Fakhri Abbas, the APD media relations and public affairs director, said they noticed the cameramen were making mistakes, which is why they asked the 2/82 for official training. “This is our job,” Ali said. “And we wanted to get more knowledge from the U.S. forces before they leave.”
McCaslin chose to cover the basics, such as composition and video sequencing, techniques that make the video more interesting to the viewer. But when the class began he realized even those elementary skills were more complex than most of the policemen were used to. “Halfway through the class, I found out that some of them didn’t even know how to use their new camera,” he said. “What a lot of broadcasters would consider basic, they were having trouble with.”
Remaining flexible in his syllabus, he quickly changed his sights to covering basic features on the camera. The policemen recently purchased a professional grade video camera, which was a huge step up from their old handhelds, and therefore more difficult to operate. The buttons were also in English, adding one more obstacle for the Arabic-speaking men.
McCaslin familiarized himself with the settings of the device as the policemen gathered close so as not to miss any important steps. One concern they voiced was that footage they shoot in the harsh Iraqi sun would become overexposed and unusable. McCaslin showed them how to adjust the camera’s white balance and filter features to be able to shoot in extreme lighting.
After the demonstration, he handed the camera off to members of the class to perform the techniques covered earlier in the day. The men practiced different camera angles, rule of thirds and perspective shots to help them achieve varied effects.
“I could tell they were excited to use the new camera and to figure it out for the first time,” he said. “I saw that they really want to do this.”
The IP media teams throughout Anbar have worked with Marine and U.S. Army units in the past to improve their video abilities.
After receiving classes and new equipment from the military, they have become an integral part of police operations in Anbar as they have now created their own television program.
‘The Punishment’ is a widely watched series that highlights arrests made by the police, including confessions from the criminals and on-the-scene reenactments of the crimes. A broadcast of this type is just one way the Iraqi Police media teams are broadening their outreach to their local audiences.
“They’re making that connection between the police and the citizens of Anbar,” McCaslin said. “And that makes all the difference.”