Shape up! A Pentagon view of the press

DeLauer, Richard D.
September 1983
Columbia Journalism Review;Sep/Oct1983, Vol. 22 Issue 3, p17
This article presents cases of poor coverage of defense-related issues by U.S. reporters as of 1983. The issue of classified information helps to explain the challenge faced by a professional reporter covering defense issues. An article published in the April 19,1983 issue of the New York Times described alleged abuses of the classification system by the Defense Department. The problem is that the reporter closed his quotes a bit early. It represented only about 20 percent of the paragraph. The part not quoted went on to outline more detailed objectives of air power that do warrant classification. The Washington Post had made a foray into the same general area in a February 27 Insight piece. In this case, the reporter took the tact that the Defense Department and the president had used classified information to deceive the public and Congress. The story of the transition of the Defense Department from first-generation Air Launch Cruise missile to the second-generation Advanced Cruise Missile was cited as an example. The reporter asserted that President Ronald Reagan and Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger lied for the sake of national security. The press will find an area of defense management that makes great copy because there is some sensational aspect to the story.


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