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Ombudsman blog archive


Interpreting the Pentagon's new media policy

The Pentagon tells me that it disputes my characterization of its new guidance on the release of information as one that will constrict the flow of news and information to the public and Congress.

I mentioned these rules in passing in this week’s column “Behind the media contractors’ veil” to offer context for the military’s practice of shielding the identities of some media-services contractors, including large U.S. firms, by designating them in public records as “miscellaneous foreign contractors.”

Behind the media contractors' veil

 Ombudsman’s Note: Congress established this position to conduct “aggressive and objective oversight” of Stars and Stripes’ relationship with the military to foster independent, quality journalism and a “free flow of information” to the paper’s readers absent censorship, propaganda or other forms of news management. This admittedly lengthy column is offered in support of that mandate.


When the U.S. military in Afghanistan canceled a media services contract with the Rendon Group last summer, Stars and Stripes, which had assailed Rendon’s analyses of journalists’ work as an affront to press freedom and a Pentagon effort to skew public perception of the war, saw it as a white flag and moved on.

 
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Tobias Naegele

Stars and Stripes ombudsman

Over 30 years as a journalist, Tobias Naegele has focused almost exclusively on military and defense issues, headed up the Military Times newspapers — Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times — from 1998 to 2014, establishing Marine Corps Times as its own distinct product during that time. Prior to then, he was editor of Navy Times, where he created its weekly Marine Corps Edition.

From 2004 to 2014, he was editor in chief of the Military Times products as well as Defense News, Armed Forces Journal, Federal Times, and a number of other magazines and websites, including Military Times Faces of the Fallen and its Hall of Valor, along with the weekly syndicated TV program This Week in Defense News with Vago Muradian. Under his leadership, the newsroom was consistently recognized with awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors, Online News Association, Society of Professional Journalists, American Business Press Editors, Military Writers and Editors, White House Correspondents Association and more.

Tobias Naegele can be reached at naegele.tobias@stripes.com or (202) 761-0900.


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.