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AP Finally discovers the TNR story
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, August 09, 2007

And, believe it or not, it's a fairly balanced story:

The final word from the Army:
"During that investigation, all the soldiers from his unit refuted all claims that Pvt. Beauchamp made in his blog," Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, a spokesman in Baghdad for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., said in an e-mail interview.
Also discussed are points brought out by many who've discussed this incident and validated by Bob Steele in the AP article. Steele is the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at The Poynter Institute school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla:
"Anonymity allows an individual to make accusations against others with impunity," Steele said. "In this case, the anonymous diarist was accusing other soldiers of various levels of wrongdoing that were, at the least, moral failures, if not violations of military conduct. The anonymity further allows the writer to sidestep essential accountability that would exist, were he identified."

Steele said he was troubled by the fact that the magazine did not catch the scene-shifting from Kuwait to Iraq of the incident Beauchamp described involving the disfigured woman.

"If they were doing any kind of fact-checking, with multiple sources, that error _ or potential deception _ would have emerged," Steele said.

He added that he was also troubled by the relationship between Beauchamp and Reeve, his wife, who works at The New Republic. "It raises the possible specter of competing loyalties, which could undermine the credibility of the journalism," he said.
While I'm not much bothered by the relationship mentioned, I agree with Steele's point about the claim of "fact-checking" that was supposedly done. More and more it appears to have been a claim and not a reality.

AP also quoted Paul McLeary of the Columbia Journalism Review (who stepped in it himself just a short time ago) about the TNR story:
Paul McLeary, a staff writer for Columbia Journalism Review who has written about the matter, said The New Republic failed to do some basic journalistic legwork, such as calling the public affairs officer for Beauchamp's unit.

"There is a degree of trust and faith editors have to put in their writers," McLeary said. "If you're on a tight deadline, you have to go as far as you can. The New Republic definitely didn't go as far as it could in terms of checking out its stories."
Seems to me that's what this is all coming down too - TNR claiming the stories are true and they did the necessary editorial due diligence prior to publishing them and facts emerging which say they didn't.

All that being said, however, I'm not happy with this either:
Mark Feldstein, a journalism professor at George Washington University, called the Army's refusal to release its report "suspect," adding: "There is a cloud over the New Republic, but there's one hanging over the Army, as well. Each investigated this and cleared themselves, but they both have vested interests."
There needs to be an official report of some sort which essentially gives a summary of the findings. While I tend to believe the Army, Feldstein is correct - they both have vested interests and until some sort of report is issued there will always be a lingering doubt.
 
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Fort Riley, Kan
That’s Manhattan Kansas, people... I was born about 30 minutes or so from there...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Mark Feldstein, a journalism professor at George Washington University, called the Army’s refusal to release its report "suspect,"...
I agree with this except that I wouldn’t call it "suspect". I also agree that heavily unionized jobs, especially state government jobs, should not be able to hide behind the "it’s a personnel matter" either. I’d like to know what Feldstein thinks about that.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
The obvious next step here is for TNR to release the names of the persons that verified the original stories.

I’m sure a few "real" journalists could fill in the blanks from there.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
As with any report that is done within the military, once complete the report must circulate up channel before publication. Additionally, any report which could result in disciplinary action, even of the administrative variety, increases the amount of scrutiny required. I have no doubt this particular report is being given even more increased and detailed scrutiny because of the sensitive nature of the topic. (Note: Also it is possible this increased scrutiny is as a result of lessons learned in the Tillman situation.)
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
(Note: Also it is possible this increased scrutiny is as a result of lessons learned in the Tillman situation.)
Good point. Certainly nowhere near the gravity of the Tillman debacle, but still a lesson learned.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
There needs to be an official report of some sort which essentially gives a summary of the findings. While I tend to believe the Army, Feldstein is correct - they both have vested interests and until some sort of report is issued there will always be a lingering doubt.
Exactly.

I think you finally made a post about this affair which I can agree with completely.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I think you finally made a post about this affair which I can agree with completely.
A sure sign that there exists a flaw the post...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://

 
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