Column preview: When war reporting becomes crime reporting

 "Where are the everyday mentions of heinous acts perpetrated by other entities on the battlefield?" asks Army Capt. Dana Fitzpatrick of the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion.

This week's column poses that question to Stripes editors and takes a look at the balance of misdeeds in coverage. 

VE Day back story: Did the Stripes reporter keep his promise to delay reporting the Nazi surrender?

Here’s another take on AP reporter Ed Kennedy’s 1945 scoop on the Nazi surrender 67 years ago today – the story of Stars and Stripes reporter Charles Kiley, who covered the surrender negotiations and (unlike Kennedy) kept his promise to Allied military authorities to delay reporting the actual surrender for 36 hours.  David Kiley recounts in the Huffington Post how his father viewed Kennedy’s “cowboy” decision to break the embargo on his own. Good reading in full, though I’ll just quote one point here:

 “[L]et's not think for a minute that Kennedy was motivated by ‘the people's right to know.’ Recalling my father's account, I know he said the following to me, though it is not on tape: ‘Kennedy wanted the scoop, plain and simple.’"

WWII quiz: What prize went to the reporter who got Nazi surrender scoop?

 The Associated Press apologized today for firing World War II correspondent Ed Kennedy after he broke a pledge of secrecy to break the news of the German surrender on May 7, 1945.  

Did the people’s right to know the war was over in Europe trump the Allied chiefs’ plan to let Stalin stage his own Nazi surrender? What would you have done?


Ernie Gates

Stars and Stripes ombudsman

As a journalist for more than three decades, Ernie Gates has been a reporter, editor and news executive, including 10 years leading the enterprising print and digital newsroom of Tribune Co.’s Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Va.

News for and about service members, families and veterans has always been a key focus in Hampton Roads, where every branch of the armed services has a significant presence.

As vice president and editor, Ernie was responsible for all news, business, features and sports coverage and oversaw the editorial page. He also wrote the daily Feedback column, responding to readers’ questions and comments about coverage, news judgment, journalism ethics, taste and other issues. Representing the paper as a public speaker, he focused on News Values and Credibility.

He is a past president of the Virginia Press Association and a past chairman of Virginia Associated Press Newspapers. 

Since leaving the Daily Press in 2010, Ernie has stayed active in public affairs. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at the William & Mary Law School.  He is also serves on the Coalition Partners Advisory Panel of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

Ernie and his wife, Betsy, live in Williamsburg, Va. They have three adult children.

Ernie Gates can be reached at ombudsman@stripes.osd.mil or (202) 761-0587.

Follow ombudsman Ernie Gates on Twitter

The ombudsman

Congress created the post in the early 1990’s to ensure that Stars and Stripes journalists operate with editorial independence and that Stars and Stripes readers receive a free flow of news and information without taint of censorship or propaganda.

The ombudsman serves as an autonomous watchdog of Stars and Stripes’ First Amendment rights. Anyone who fears those rights are imperiled should alert the ombudsman.

The ombudsman is also the readers’ representative to the newsroom. Readers who think a journalistic issue or event was misrepresented or ignored or who feel complaints were not properly addressed by Stripes reporters or editors should contact the ombudsman.