Where is coverage of Marines?

Question: I am very dismayed at the lack of coverage regarding the departure of the Marine Reserve Unit that left Saturday -- 150 of our men left family and loved ones to defend freedom. The news has given more coverage of the Aryan Nations parade than the courage and commitment of these Marines. Please address this issue as I feel it speaks loud and clear of your lack of support for our troops.

Answer: We share your concern about the lack of coverage of the U.S Marine Corps reservists based in Spokane who left last weekend for deployment to Iraq. We were keenly interested in trying to provide thorough coverage, but unfortunately the Marine Corps restricted our access to the departing contingent.

Normally, we would have covered the departure by talking to the reservists and their family members. When we called the Marine unit, officials there declined to tell us specific information about their departure dates because of security fears for their troops. Battalion leaders were fairly forthcoming about their upcoming mission, but they told us they didn't want us there for their family day or departure activities. We were also told the troops themselves didn't want the media interruption.

Given the circumstances, the best we could do was the front page story we published on July 15 in which we described the essential details of the deployment. We meant no disrespect to the reservists or their families, but we can't do our jobs as journalists if we're denied access. -- Gary Graham, managing editor

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