US army 'profiling Afghan journalists' on war news

The Pentagon has hired a private firm to investigate reporters seeking to embed with US troops in Afghanistan

US army 'profiling Afghan journalists' on war news

The Pentagon has hired a private firm to profile reporters seeking to embed with US troops in Afghanistan , a report said Wednesday.

Stars and Stripes, a military journal partly funded by the Pentagon but editorially independent, said private contractors had been brought in by the US Defense Department to evaluate journalists.

The newspaper, partly funded by the Pentagon but editorially independent, said the journalists' profiles included suggestions on how to "neutralize" negative stories and generate favorable coverage.

The Rendon Group rates reporters' previous work as "positive," "negative," or "neutral," and offers advice on how their coverage might be influenced, the report said.

The newspaper published a pie chart which it said came from a Rendon report on the coverage of a reporter for an unidentified major U.S. newspaper until mid-May, judging it to be 83.33 percent neutral and 16.67 percent negative with respect to the military's goals.

One file on a journalist seen by Stars and Stripes describes his coverage as "neutral to positive," but adds that negative stories "could possibly be neutralized" if he were given quotes from military officials.

Another file describes a television reporter as taking a "subjective angle," but advises that steering him towards "the positive work of a successful operation" could "result in favorable coverage."

The U.S. military command in Afghanistan denied the Rendon Group provided a range of services including analysis of news coverage -- but it did not grade journalists.

The command claimed it compiled background information on journalists, including biographical details and recent topics they have covered, to prepare leaders for interviews.

The Stars and Stripes report, published on Wednesday, sparked condemnation from organizations representing U.S. and international journalists.

"This profiling of journalists further compromises the independence of media," said Aidan White, general secretary of the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists.

"It strips away any pretense that the army is interested in helping journalists to work freely. It suggests they are more interested in propaganda than honest reporting."

The report comes as Washington worries about the increasing unpopularity of the war in Afghanistan becasue of kiling civilians during Western-led attacks.

According to a recent poll, 51 percent of Americans now say the war is not worth fighting.

Agencies
Last Mod: 28 Ağustos 2009, 15:35
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