8/31/09

"Grades for Reporters" Fail

After a week of heated back and forth, it seems that Stars and Stripes, the military's editorially independent news source, has succeeded in shaming the Pentagon into canceling its contract with the the Rendon Group. The Rendon Group, a Washington-based PR firm, had been compiling background information on reporters for the Pentagon, including whether their past stories written while embedded with US soldiers were "positive, negative or neutral." Although the military denies that these ratings were used to determine whether or not embed requests would be granted, it seems clear that they were used in this way as late as May of this year.
In at least two of the profiles, copies of which were obtained by Stars and Stripes, Rendon clearly stated the purpose of the analysis was to help military public affairs officers determine what kind of coverage to expect from the journalist, whether to grant their embed request, and if that journalist could be steered toward “positive” coverage for the military.
NPR's On the Media had a segment devoted to the controversy this weekend:

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