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Posts Tagged ‘Stars & Stripes’

Pentagon Ends Contract With Rendon Group

rendon.jpgWe’ve been keeping an eye on Stars & Stripes‘ coverage of The Rendon Group, a private public relations company that profiled reporters who requested embeds with the military in Afghanistan. Now, they report that the Pentagon has canceled its $1.5 million contract with the company.

In an article on Monday, the military publication reported that U.S. public affairs specialists in Afghanistan revealed that all reporters were profiled by Rendon prior to being embedded. But there were mixed reports all week as to whether or not journalists had been denied an embed based on their previous coverage.

On Friday, Stars & Stripes reported that the background reports were “used by military officials to deny disfavored reporters access to American fighting units or otherwise influence their coverage as recently as 2008.” But other military officials are still denying that report.

As PRNewser reports even after news of the contract cancellation came out, one military spokesperson said in NPR interview that the practice of denying reporters embed positions based on their background reports was “flat out incorrect.”

Update: New York public radio station WNYC points us to an August 7 interview on its “On The Media” program. During the interview, Matt Mabe, a journalist and soldier in the U.S. Army, revealed the military’s use of background checks:

“The military is now commissioning private companies to research, profile and make assessments about reporters’ previous military coverage. They rate it using pie charts and graphs…and finish it off with a summary evaluation, which to me carries an almost Orwellian overtone.

“For example, we have a reporter on the ground right now, and his assessment reads like this: ‘Given his neutral to positive sentiment typical in his narrative reporting, as well as the characterization of his media outlet, which is politically center right, one may expect this reporter to produce coverage that is, at the least, neutral in sentiment and representative of the military point of view of events, if not neutral to positive.’

“Now, the idea here is to figure out the best place to put them or prevent them from embedding at all. And, in my opinion, this just counters the ideals that we who wear the uniform are expected to represent.”

Listen to the whole interview here:

PRNewser: Pentagon Cancels Rendon Contract Over Profiling Flap

Earlier: An Embedded Reporters’ Thoughts On His Own Background Report

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An Embedded Reporter’s Thoughts On His Own Background Report

tobia.jpgToday, FishbowlLA points to a True/Slant blog post by P.J. Tobia, a journalist who has been embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In his post, Tobia writes about his background check by the Rendon Group, which he had obtained.

Earlier this week, an article in Stars & Stripes about such background checks raised questions in the journalism community. (It was even a topic on the Morning Media Menu podcast.) So Tobia’s insight as someone scrutinized by the Rendon Group is worth reading. He also posts excerpts of his own report.

Although Tobia admits that he doesn’t think the reports are a violation, he called them “creepy,” and said the military should be honest about them:

“Most troubling by far is that when S&S asked the military about Rendon, they denied the existence of these reports. I’m holding one of these reports in my hand right now, trust me, it exists. I’ve also met people who work for The Rendon Group in Kabul. In conversations, they deny that there is any nefarious objective to what they do.”

You can read all of Tobia’s thoughts here.

Journalists’ recent work examined before embeds -Stars & Stripes

FishbowlLA: PJ Tobia Posts The Rendon Group Report On Him

Obama Skips All MSM Newspapers in Press Conference

pressergg.pngNewspapers everywhere may love to feature President Barack Obama in their pages, be it as an op-ed contributor or as an sales incentive, but Obama was showing no newspaper love at last night’s prime time press conference.

The President took a total of 13 questions, none of which were from a mainstream newspaper. After tapping the AP, then the networks, then the cablers, Obama turned his attention to more niche publications such as Stars & Stripes and Univision, arguably because he rightly guessed their questions would skew with topics he wanted to talk about i.e. the military and Mexico border issues. As Michael Calderone points out not calling on any MSM newspaper is a definite departure in White House protocol. But considering Obama seems to be making a habit of asking fewer questions and giving longer answers (this is the second hourlong, 13 question presser), perhaps he is also to be applauded for veering away from the norm.