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Linda Vester Receives Military Honor on Dayside (What?)

Reported by Melanie - December 3, 2004

Linda Vester received an award from the United States military today (December 3, 2004) on Dayside w/Linda Vester.

Lt. General "Buster" Hagenbeck (US Army Personnel Chief) was a guest on the show. He was on to discuss Afghanistan, military recruitment, and disabled veterans among other things.

At the end of the segment, after Vester thanked him for coming, Hagenbeck stood up and said: "Before you go Linda, I've got one quick presentation, if I could ask you to join me up here on stage for a second." Vester, acting surprised, said "Are you serious?" Hagenbeck continued: "About two years ago Linda was submitted for recognition in The Infantry Society, the St. Maurice Society ah, recognized her. She was awarded this [Hagenbeck held a large circular medallion hanging from a wide yellow ribbon] but not formally presented this. She's done extraordinary things for our army and in particular, for our soldiers and infantrymen, and since I was going to be down here in the New York area I asked if I could come by to personally and formally present this to you and thank you for all the things that you've done for our army and in particular our infantrymen."

Vester said something like "Oh, wow" as Hagenbeck placed the medal around her neck. She and Hagenbeck shook hands and the studio audience clapped. Then Vester said: "Sir, I have to tell you I don't do this reporting, you know, other than it's just the right thing to do. And, I think a lof of Americans feel the same way, that the men and women of our armed forces deserve to have fair, balanced, honest and supportive coverage."

COMMENT: First, I completely agree that "the men and women of our armed forces deserve to have fair, balanced, honest" coverage. After all, a free and independent press is fundamental to our democracy. However, I'm concerned about "supportive coverage." Vester's job, if she considers herself a journalist (and not a talk show host) is to report the facts, not provide "supportive coverage" to any one entity or point of view. Here is one portion of the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional journalists:

Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

Journalists should:

Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.

Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.

Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.

Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

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