Irresponsible journalism

Townhall columnist W. Thomas Smith, Jr. has written a must-read piece that asks if wartime reporting from the MSM has been responsible or irresponsible:

We writers – whether journalists reporting, columnists expounding, or authors expanding – have an incredible responsibility. We must be critical in our approach to news and information. We must understand it. We must remember it is not about us as writers; it is solely about our readers. We must ensure that the information we receive and disseminate is both thorough and unflaggingly truthful. Then we must accurately boil it down in a fashion that is digestible for our readers.

There is another variable in the reporting mix: We must report and write responsibly.
And when it comes to writing about war and military operations, we have to strike a balance between what we owe the news-consuming general public and what we owe our soldiers in the field.

For instance, as a military/defense writer, I often find myself privy to sensitive information. Such information, if read by the enemy (and make no mistake, the enemy reads what we write), could put the lives of our men and women in uniform at great risk. This is a trust the vast majority of my colleagues and I take very seriously. But more than a few defense contractors and some senior military leaders believe not all reporters feel bound by such accuracy or responsibility.

He mentions a couple of good examples of exactly why those defense contractors and military leaders believe that. Make sure to read the opinion piece in its entirety and if you haven’t come to the conclusion I came to long ago about the irresponsibility of the media in a time of war, I think Smith’s piece will convince you.

Jack Kelly is on the same page, and in an ouch-worthy piece slams the mainstream media for their oftentimes inaccuate and/or incomplete reporting of war on terror-related stories.

Remember this: The media, as ABC Nightline anchor and once-upon-a-time ABC evening news reporter Terry Moran once said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, has a strong anti-military bias and it’s been that way since Vietnam – an era in which they seem perpetually stuck:

HH: Let me ask you something. Major K, a major in the Army who is reporting from Iraq on his blog all the time says, all this being said, it is no small wonder that a gulf has opened between journalists and the general public. I think even the most John Q. Sixpacks know when they are being fed a line of blank blank blank. My brother called me a journalist once during a conversation about this blog. I was offended. That is a general impression among the American military about the media, Terry. Where does that come from?

TM: It comes from, I think, a huge gulf of misunderstanding, for which I lay plenty of blame on the media itself. There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it’s very dangerous.

Mix one half anti-military/anti-war bias with one half Bush hatred among the MSM, and it’s little surprise we get stories almost weekly that have the potential of aiding the enemy – and hindering the good guys’ (for the uber-anti-war radicals, the good guys are US) ability to fight them.

Smith wraps up here:

So how do we present the news, if we know there is going to be a direct or collateral effect of that presentation that may possibly, adversely impact our nation and those who are physically defending it day in and day out? It’s a tough question to be sure.

Reporting needs to be fair, objective, and interesting. But we need to look beyond Pulitzer Prizes, who’s scooping whom, and the newspapers’ bottom-lines. We need to look to our readers. We need to write for our readers, and we need to remember that they – and we – are Americans first, and our country is at war for its very survival.


Hat tip: Blackfive

Others blogging about this: Winds of Change,

More: As ST reader Baklava notes in the comments section in my prior post, the President in his speech today about Iraq talked about how the enemy pays attention to what the media writes. From the President’s speech:

Earlier this year, a newspaper published details of a new anti- IED technology that was being developed. Within five days of the publication, using details from that article, the enemy had posted instructions for defeating this new technology on the Internet.

So where does the media draw the line? Sometimes I wonder if there even is one.

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