nlgjaA quick note about the continuing saga of Chaplains and DADT, an issue we’ve covered extensively. At the conservative media criticism blog GetReligion, Terry Mattingly used one of our blog posts to suggest that NLGJA believed there was no religious liberty conflict in the DADT/chaplain situation and we were not committed to fair and accurate journalism.

I’ve since learned that they have significantly edited my response, so I wanted to post it here.

On behalf of NLGJA’s blog, I appreciate you linking to us although I wish you had done a better job of characterizing our disagreement with the Associated Press article. I have blogged before about the need to better coverage of the chaplain/DADT issue, but we just disagree about what better coverage would look like. Far from believing there is no conflict, I suggest we don’t understand the conflict and we shouldn’t accept the word of activists groups to define the conflict.

In my blog about the AP piece, I criticized the complete lack of balance, the focus on hypotheticals, the lack of a “new” news hook, and the failure to put the issue in perspective. I also, of course, criticized them for largely cribbing your opinion column instead of doing objective, fair reporting on the issue.

The current Pentagon report provides much of the perspective that his discussion has needed. Instead of relying on activist group rhetoric, it focuses on the Pentagon’s rules, reiterates the freedom that chaplains have, and reinforces that chaplains are expected to serve the military by treating servicemembers with respect and dignity. It also points out that few chaplains actually say they would quit if DADT were repealed.

Those are good jumping off points for fair and accurate coverage of the issue that puts the religious liberty issue into perspective and context, something NLGJA has been encouraging journalists to do all along. What we criticize is largely cribbing articles from opinion columns, failing to represent religious voices that support repeal, and relying on press releases and political actions by activists groups instead of focusing on facts.