Stars & Stripes: News watchdog for the military
I am researching a character for my novel who served in the Middle East as a military correspondent while on active duty. I got immediate help and some contacts from Tobias Naegele, ombudsman for Stars & Stripes.
In the process, I learned of examples where this official newspaper for service members has broken the first investigative stories of military abuses, enlightening to me after all my years in journalism since the paper is published by the Department of Defense and funded by Congress.
I have Naegele's permission to reprint a portion of his recent column about the unique role of a government-owned watchdog protecting service members who protect all of us.
My mission: Protect Stars and Stripes’ freedom
By Tobias Naegele
About six weeks ago I joined Stars and Stripes as its new ombudsman. That means I’m a sort of outside investigator, both a reader’s advocate and an inspector general of sorts, one with a particular mission to protect Stripes’ press freedoms and to ensure it delivers a fair and balanced product...
...Can the government publish a fair and balanced newspaper and news site, free from interference and censorship? Most of the time, yes. But it only takes one misstep to raise doubt about everything one does. That makes this a challenging and complex question.
In the 1980s, questions about censorship in Stars and Stripes arose in the Pacific, prompting investigations. The net result: Congress affirmed Stars and Stripes’ mission to provide daily news coverage for the extended military community, and established the ombudsman position to be an independent guardian of Stars and Stripes’ editorial independence.
My job, then, is threefold:
In a way, this page is my third book, a virtual and public account of the next chapter of my life. My story is not over.