5Classified:is your enemy an adversary or an opportunity?


Routine government press conferences, it’s fair to say, are more often than not a total bore.

While the assembled, invited media wait for answers to obvious questions, bureaucrats and political advisers busily spin buzzwords into phrases that are impossible for ministers to actually speak aloud. The obligatory history lesson and political point scoring follows while departmental staffers shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other, hoping the wall they’re leaning against provides some kind of magical invisibility cloak during the impending communications debacle.

Everyone feigns interest as the speaker rambles on. When the narrative approaches its natural climax, journalists click their pens to the ready, double check their voice recorders and fire up their Twitter feeds ready for the big reveal — and instead of the answers they’ve waited so patiently to hear, that dirty C word is spoken:

‘It’s classified.’

The collective sigh of frustration around the room is always audible. Journalists exchange looks of pained disbelief before attempting to ask some questions. When that doesn’t work, they just get up and leave.

You see, no one is questioning the security of the information. It’s no secret that operational information is ‘classified’. In fact, the media are not asking you for that information. What they hope for is ...

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