Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

The Afghan media surge — highlighting unpaid salaries



US and NATO forces in Afghanistan recently sent out a news release apparently highlighting that teachers in a school supported by international troops were going unpaid for weeks, or even months.That wasn’t the headline of course — we were told “Uruzgan teachers to begin receiving salaries” but just three paragraphs in was the news that the school reopened on September 23.And the six teachers shouldn’t expect their modest 5,000 Afghanis (just over $100) salary for at least another few weeks it added — mentioning only that pay would arrive “in the coming weeks”.

The military are sending out far more news releases than just a few months ago, with even relatively small operations highlighted, more frequent updates on major operations, and more reports on aid projects and ventures like a children’s day in Bamiyan province. Recent headlines include: “Coalition and Afghan Border Police living on the edge” ,  “Female engagement team builds bridges into Afghan society” , “Afghan National Army honoured at concert” and “Afghan masons ‘build’ sustainability through concrete training”.

We no longer leap to attention quite so fast when we see one of their news releases pop into our inboxes.

They also seem to have taken on a lot of new staff; some of whom are still getting used to the job. Ringing up with a question about another routine news release recently, I was asked to spell out my name and that of the company I work for, and then asked what Reuters does.