Army Bans Stars and Stripes Reporter from Covering Iraq Combat Team

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pop quiz time. Recently, the U.S. military banned a reporter from embedding with an Army unit because of his unfavorable coverage of the war in Iraq. Was the reporter from: A) New York Times; B) Washington Post; or C) Stars and Stripes? The answer: C.

 
Yes, the military has banned access to a journalist from its own newspaper, because according to Army commanders, Heath Druzin “refused to highlight” good news in Iraq.
 
Druzin spent February and March filing stories for Stars and Stripes from Mosul, where he was embedded with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. During that time he wrote that local Iraqis couldn’t wait for American soldiers to leave and hand over security operations to Iraqi forces.
 
The Army also accused Druzin of using quotes out of context, behaving “unprofessionally,” and refusing to tell commanders details about his upcoming assignments. Stars and Stripes editor Terry Leonard refuted the allegations against his reporter, saying Druzin’s reporting had been consistently accurate and fair, and he pointed out that reporters are not required to answer a commander’s questions about their plans for future stories.
 
So far the publication has failed in its appeals to convince Army brass to reverse their decision regarding Druzin. The Army has offered to allow him to embed with a different unit in Kirkuk, but Leonard has rejected that idea.
 
Stars and Stripes, although funded by the Department of Defense, operates independently.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 

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