News agencies call on Biden administrator to allow journalists to integrate with military forces while deployed in Europe
Journalists who cover the US military are alarmed at the lack of access right now.
For decades, American journalists have been granted integration opportunities when US military forces deployed overseas. It’s a long and proud tradition, one that has highlighted not only the transparency of the US government, but also the country’s commitment to a free and open press.
But, with this latest troop deployment to Eastern Europe, something has gone wrong. Journalists have been denied the opportunity to integrate with troops aimed at bolstering NATO as Russia amass troops along the Ukrainian border. In fact, their many requests were blocked.
From now on, the press agencies are increasing the pressure. In a letter we obtained, Military.com, the Military Times and Task & Purpose write that they “firmly believe” that the public has “the right to know how and what their troops are doing and how the money from their taxes is spent”. The three outlets, which are circulating their letter among journalists in hopes of getting other outlets to sign, said that “despite numerous requests from media organizations, no journalists have yet been allowed to accompanying these troops and bringing their stories home”.
“As a result,” the media wrote, “we call on the Pentagon to immediately begin the process of allowing journalists to integrate with troops heading to Europe in response to Russian troop movements near Ukraine.”
“Who or what has this decision? »
These demands for news agency integration are going nowhere. They land on someone’s desk. So who blocks them?
Howard Altman of the Military Times pressed Pentagon press secretary John Kirby about it on Tuesday. “The American public has an absolute right to know how and what their troops are doing and how taxpayers’ money is being spent. Can you tell me when journalists will be allowed to join troops going to Europe? And if that is not soon, who or what is holding this decision?”
Kirby said he was “responsible for decisions made regarding media access to our operations and employees.” He said the “responsibility is his” and that the Pentagon is “working on what would be the appropriate level of media access here.”
But not all journalists buy Kirby’s replica. Some journalists suspect the White House National Security Council of resisting integration…
A terrible precedent
The fact that journalists are barred from joining forces when they are simply deploying to Europe to support NATO countries does not bode well for the future. What if the United States were to engage in a more dangerous military campaign in the future? If journalists can’t watch troops stationed in Europe, what happens when they leave for more threatening or sensitive missions?
Distributed photos and videos and updates from government spokespersons cannot replace journalists on the ground, collecting information for themselves and observing the situation with their own eyes and ears. And the Biden administration, which has promised high levels of transparency, should be pressed until it grants access to news outlets…