We Were Nonstorytellers Once, and Young

Military correspondents are a strange breed of storyteller. Their craft is the unholy offspring of journalism and propaganda known as public affairs. They are trained at the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, Md. The school’s name carries a certain connotation, hinting at the types of stories military correspondents can tell. The school’s curricula actually stress the ideal of “objective” reporting while simultaneously exalting the doctrine of “SAPP” as the supreme guiding principle in approaching stories. SAPP: security, accuracy, propriety, policy—the four words consistently used by risk-averse public affairs officers as a means of creative castration when one of their enlisted reporters seeks to tell a real story, the kind someone might actually want to read.

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