August 15, 2005

Wash. Post drops sponsorship of Pentagon event

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Washington Post dropped its
sponsorship on Monday of a walk organized by the Pentagon to
remember victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks and to
support U.S. troops, saying it was possible the event would
become "politicized."

The newspaper's news employees' union had urged the
newspaper to reconsider co-sponsoring the Defense Department's
"Freedom Walk," which it said was a political event.

Critics of the war in Iraq gathering for demonstrations in
Washington beginning on September 24 also had criticized media
outlets for co-sponsoring the Pentagon event. The Washington
Post was one of several local media organizations that had
signed on to promote the walk.

"As it appears that this event could become politicized,
The Post has decided to honor the Washington-area victims of
9/11 by making a contribution directly to the Pentagon Memorial
Fund," Eric Grant, a Post spokesman, said in the newspaper's
Tuesday edition. "It is The Post's practice to avoid activities
that might lead readers to question the objectivity of The
Post's news coverage."

The Post article said the newspaper had notified the
Department of Defense that it would no longer donate public
service advertising space to promote the Pentagon walk.

The Post spokesman was not immediately available for
further comment.

Leaders of the newspaper's unit of the Washington-Baltimore
Newspaper Guild Local 32035 delivered a resolution to publisher
Bo Jones' office stating its concerns over linking the paper to
the Pentagon event, unit co-chairman Rick Weiss said.

"The statement urged Post management to reconsider the
decision co-sponsoring this event in the interest of
maintaining the paper's reputation for neutrality on polarizing
issues of public policy," Weiss said.

According to excerpts published on the Editor and Publisher
Web site, the resolution said: "Post news employees are subject
to disciplinary action for participating in political
activities that may be perceived as revelatory of personal
opinions or bias. The Washington Post itself should be held to
the same high standard."

The resolution said the prominent participation of country
music star Clint Black belies arguments that the walk was not a
political activity in support of the war in Iraq.

Black is headlining a concert outside the Pentagon after
the walk. The guild unit's resolution said Black was "best
known of late for his war-glorifying song 'Iraq and I Roll.' "