Stripes receives award from American Legion for morale series

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 27, 2004

Stars and Stripes’ Ground Truth series has received an Excellence in Journalism Award from The American Legion.

The Legion cited the series’ “coverage of morale issues impacting U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.” It was published in October.

The Ground Truth series was written from a survey of nearly 2,000 servicemembers and dozens of interviews to assess the conditions and morale of troops from all services in Iraq.

The Legion’s top “Fourth Estate Award” went to UPI for articles describing the plight of sick and wounded soldiers at Fort Stewart, Ga.

The organization’s announcement said the Stars and Stripes entry, along with another from a Sacramento, Calif., radio station that reported on homeless veterans, “were extremely competitive and deserving of recognition” in the form of the Excellence in Journalism Award.

Joe March at the Legion’s national headquarters noted the difficulty in choosing because of the quality of the top entries. There were more than 60 entries “from some of the premier media outfits in the country,” he said.

Stripes’ Editorial Director David Mazzarella thanked the reporters, editors and graphic artists who worked on Ground Truth in a message to the staff.

“In my view, this series provided a great service because if focused sharply on the difficult states of body and mind that american troops were experiencing in a war zone,” his message said.

This is the second important recognition this work has received, after being named a finalist in the Scripps Howard Service to the First Amendment competition.

Stripes morale survey

WASHINGTON — Three teams of Stars and Stripes reporters were dispatched to Iraq to seek warfighters’ opinions on how they and their comrades were faring in the field. Servicemembers were asked to fill out a 17-part questionnaire. Last summer, seven reporters visited nearly 50 camps in Iraq, and 1,935 servicemembers filled out the questionnaire.

The results, while not scientific, provided many insights about life on the ground in a war zone. Three questions and their responses follow.

How do you rate your unit’s morale?

Very high 3%
High 13%
Average 34%
Low 28%
Very low 21%

How do you rate your personal morale?

Very high 8%
High 19%
Average 37%
Low 19%
Very low 15%

How likely is it that you will stay in the military after your current obligation is complete?

Very likely 18%
Likely 13%
Possible 18%
Not likely 17%
Very unlikely 32%

Stripes published the results over one week in October. They can be viewed online at http://legacy.stripes.com/morale/

— Stars and Stripes