A reporter for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes has been banned from returning to his embedded post with an Army unit in Mosul, Iraq, on the grounds that he "refused to highlight" good news about the war, according to media reports.
Stars and Stripes editorial director Terry Leonard said the military did approve an embedded position for the paper but with one caveat — the reporter assigned to it could not be Heath Druzin, who followed the same unit on tours in February and March. Leonard said several reasons were given, including claims that Druzin wrote imbalanced reports and misquoted people.
Stars and Stripes quoted a written statement by an Army public affairs officer, Major Ramona Bellard, who asserted that Druzin had refused to focus on favorable news coming out of Mosul, "despite the opportunity (for him) to visit areas of the city where Iraqi Army leaders, soldiers, national police, and Iraqi police displayed a commitment to partnership."
Stars and Stripes is a military-authorized paper.
Leonard told the Reporters Committee that Stars and Stripes declined both of the offers they did receive to either embed Druzin in another area or embed another reporter with the unit in Mosul.
"I don’t see a compromise. As long as a commander and not me decides what reporter I assign to a story, I don’t think I have editorial independence," Leonard said. "We’re not abandoning our coverage of Iraq by any means, but we’re not sending a reporter to an embed that’s cherry-picking our reporting."