International Journo Groups and Guild Protest Afghan War 'Vetting' of Reporters

By: E&P Staff The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), including The Newspaper Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, on Thursday condemned what they said was "vetting" of journalists covering the Afghanistan war to gauge whether their coverage will portray American and NATO forces positively.

Stars and Stripes reported recently that journalists seeking to be embedded with Western forces in Afghanistan may be vetted by The Rendon Group, a Washington-based public relations firm commissioned by the Pentagon, the IFJ said, "to determine whether media coverage portrays the U.S. military in a positive light." The military denied the charge, and the newspaper then returned with a report on documents it said proved its claims.

IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said this "profiling" of journalists 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."

Newspaper Guild President Bernie Lunzer the vetting undermines the news media's "core value, the ability to report the truth objectively and without government censorship."

Roberta Reardon, president of the he American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, whose members include broadcast journalists, said the practice undermines democracy itself.

"If the military pre-approves only certain journalists to report
a specific point of view or agenda, our decisions cannot be made independently or freely and that threatens our democracy," she said. "I am deeply disturbed by this assault on quality broadcast journalism and on our freedom."


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