Wednesday, January 18, 2006

NPR's ombudsman asks : What defines a journalist?

National Public Radio's David Folkenflik analyzes a listener's complaint about a 10-year Army veteran who finished his tour in Iraq and six months later returned as a free-lance journalist for NPR and others. Folkenflik asks if that taints the free-lancer's coverage. The issue came up because the free-lancer filed an audio report about an American military unit helping an Iraqi child with spina bifuda. Writes Folkenflik: "For me, there are two issues raised by Ms. Ghamari-Tabrizi's question and by the answers from Gwen Thompkins, Martha Foley Smith and Bill Putnam:
"-- Do news organizations need to do more to explain how a reporter's past experiences are of benefit to the journalism?
"I think the answer is yes, of course. The NPR Web site might be a good place for those background explanations of who the reporter is. And:
" Can NPR -- or any news organization for that matter -- report so-called 'good' stories from a war zone without it sounding like pro-war propaganda?"

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