Rebuilding Iraq, communicating with social media

New Army Corps public affairs specialist lays out plans for reconstruction communications.

New Army Corps public affairs specialist lays out plans for reconstruction communications

In the shadow of a war that has divided Americans and engendered skepticism abroad, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public affairs specialist Dede Cordell faces a formidable communications challenge: How to convey Iraqi reconstruction efforts to a not-so-credulous public?

Cordell, who is heading out from the nation’s capital for a six-month deployment in Iraq this month, hopes to find the answer in YouTube and other forms of social media.

“Really all you’re seeing in the general media is the bad news and there’s a reason for that. I used to be a reporter—I know that it’s dangerous,” Cordell says. “You’ve got to [say] ‘How much is it worth it for me to go get this nice fluffy story?’”

As chief of public affairs for the Gulf Region Division, Cordell will be responsible for conveying updates on Corps projects ranging from the construction of schools and hospitals to the development of an oil pipeline and Iraq’s electrical grid. With the continuous potential for war violence hampering reporters’ ability to freely cover stories, according to Cordell, YouTube and other platforms provide a more direct means of taking Corps stories straight to the public.

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