Function of military journalists difficult to define

By ALEXANDER B. PEARCE

Journalists see themselves as accountable to the public first, followed by the particular news organization for which they work. This autonomy allows journalists to follow the credo of objectivity that they hold so dear.

But what about military journalists, reporters who perform their duties both as enlisted members of the military and as truth-seeking journalists? Is this term a contradiction?

The function of a military journalist is certainly more difficult to clearly define than another stripe of reporter. Paradoxically, it is the job of every military journalist to question the authority and policy of his superiors while making the inner-workings and happenings of the military known to the greater public, all while maintaining the protocol requisite of an enlisted soldier. Balancing these duties is surely a headache.

Military newspapers aren’t starved for quality or content, being of the same caliber as civilian newspapers. With their access to somewhat more classified information, these publications continually put out high-grade material.

Actual publications vary from branch to branch. General coverage of the entire military exists (Military Times) along with publications put out by specific branches (Navy Dispatch, 15th Wing) and even papers unique to each base. Along with these publications, a great many quasi-independent military papers are also produced. Stripes is one such publication, advertising itself as the source for independent military news.

While the idea of working simultaneously as a soldier and a journalist might seem contradictory to some, military journalists work just as hard as any other reporter at getting the news out to the public in the most independent and objective way possible.

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