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white noise

Military journalists to be vetted by PR firm

The brave and few among the ranks of our profession who are interested in reporting on the war in Afghanistan could be screened by a controversial Washington public relations firm, according to a Monday report in Stars and Stripes newspaper. The Rendon Group, allegedly a creation of the CIA, helped create the Iraqi National Congress, which fed false information about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction that was used to justify the invasion. Now, Stars and Stripes reports, US public affairs officials have acknowledged that any reporter seeking to embed with the US military in Afghanistan could be subject to a background check by the Rendon Group. Officials with the Rendon Group confirmed to the newspaper that it may examine individual reporters’ recent work to determine “whether the coverage was ‘positive,’ ‘negative’ or ‘neutral’ compared to mission objectives.” The newspaper has had some recent misfortune with military gatekeepers in the past, when US Army officials reportedly prohibited one of its reporters from embedding with the 1 st Cavalry Division in Iraq “because the reporter ‘refused to highlight’ good news that military commanders wanted to emphasize.” — JG

Sun-Times biting the dust?

The Chicago Sun-Times is nearing the end of its financial reserves accord- ing to an article written by Michael Oneal for the Chicago Tribune on Aug. 22. Oneal reported that the media group spent a reported $3.8 million in July and now only has $19.3 million in cash left according to court docu- ments. The company is reportedly nearing a point that would make it administratively insolvent, which means that there would not be enough cash to cover severance and other shutdown costs. Oneal reported that Sun-Times chairman Jeremy Halbreich said that the company is running low on cash but that he is close to making a deal with a financial backer willing to help out. There has also been talk that Halbreich is talking to sev- eral potential buyers for the publication, according to the article. The Sun- Times reportedly applied for Chapter 11 protection at the end of March this year. Oneal reported that since filing the company has been working on saving money and cutting costs by improving efficiency, halting payments to pension plans and cutting back almost 7 percent from expenses. — LC

Boca Raton News shuts down

A blog post by Bob Norman on “The Daily Pulp,” calls into question a news item published in the Sun-Sentinel that contradicted earlier reports of the publisher of the Boca Raton News telling the newspaper’s employees they were “no longer employed.” The item quoted newspaper editor John Johnston as stating, “We’re going to do exactly what we‘re doing now: Run a proactive and involved website covering Boca Raton and Delray Beach.” Norman said one glance at the “pathetic” newspaper website and it becomes clear the original reports of the newspaper’s demise were accurate. Norman said he had learned the website brings generates $900 a month and Johnston is a “one-man show.” Norman goes on to say, “the misleading Sentinel coverage just accentuates the way that area, south Palm Beach mainly, isn‘t being covered worth a damn.” Norman’s blog also points out that the newspaper made no effort to tell its readers that its Aug. 23 edition was the final print edition. “One reason for that is that the Sunday paper was already in the can before Friday‘s doomsday staff meet- ing,” Norman writes. “It was always finished by Thursday, begging the ques- tion of whether it was technically still even a newspaper at all.” — KTB

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