what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always propaganda

WecandoitPropaganda in war time is normal, buying space is common in some societies where journalistic integrity is questionable.  So this is no surprise:

"Military Admits Planting News in Iraq"

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 – The military acknowledged Friday in a briefing for a ranking Senate Republican that news articles written by American troops had been placed as paid advertisements in the Iraqi news media and not always properly identified.

The very act of war is "I am so mad I am going to shoot you because you won’t do what I want."  So the suggestion of buying editorial space in a society where this is common practice strikes me as normal.  Every time you go to the gym you see "health magazines" that are mostly about plastic surgery.  Do you really think all of those articles were written without any thought on who purchased 50k worth of advertisement that year?  If not, can you expect greater editorial integrity from a war zone?  I think not.

So is it wrong for a public relations professional to knowingly pay to place an article?  Yes, definitely.  But don’t PR folks regularly write articles and mail them to newspapers in the hopes that a lazy journalist will use them?  Yes, absolutely. Bernays even called them "fillers" and along with the Internet he claimed to have invented them.

This post on wartime propaganda is thought provoking and I recommend it.  In particular, the Lippman quote puts it in context.

"We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always propaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and a crusade for peace." – Walter Lippman

For more information on wartime propaganda, I highly recommend PR! A Social History of Spin by Stuart Ewen.  Or we can leave it to the future of public relations integrity.