Pentagon Grades Reporters' War Coverage

Documents shed light on Defense efforts to shape news from Afghanistan
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2009 8:06 PM CDT
The Pentagon is keeping tabs on war coverage, rating it "positive," "neutral" or "negative."   (Wikimedia Commons)
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(Newser) – With a view to trying to influence coverage of the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon is grading journalists’ work, the Stars and Stripes reports. The military newspaper says it has documents that counter official denials of the practice, with coverage rated as “positive,” “neutral,” or “negative.” The documents also contain advice on how to “neutralize” reporters seen to have a less-than-positive slant.

The Pentagon has farmed out the analysis of reporters from some of America’s top newspapers to a controversial Washington public-relations firm; the Rendon Group denies it keeps a “ranking of reporters.” Fumes one servicemember: “It’s troubling that the military is contracting a private PR firm, paid with US taxpayer dollars, to profile individual reporters. It shows utter contempt for the Constitution, which we in the service pledge our lives to defend.”