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Witt, the new senior managing editor of the DC-based military daily, is newsworthy now because his pub broke the story about the Pentagon’s hiring of a private firm to do background checks on reporters in hopes of judging how favorable their combat coverage would be if embedded with the troops. The Pentagon ended its contract with the Rendon Group, which ran the “Media Analyst” program, because of the Stars and Stripes‘ reporting.
To me, among the most shocking aspects of the story: Stars and Stripes is subsidized by the U.S. Government, so Witt is biting, kicking and stomping on the hand that feeds him.
And the most non-shocking: Witt’s bringing attention to his newspaper. Just before coming back to D.C. to take over Stars and Stripes, Witt had an amazing attention-getting run while working the race beat for the Chicago Tribune. (Full disclosure: Witt was my boss at City Paper in 2000-2001.)
For one, Witt’s the guy who made the Jena 6 a national story with a June 6, 2005 article in the Tribune on the brewing race war in a small Louisiana town.
Witt also did the story about the letter young Ty’sheoma Bethea of Dillon, S.C. wrote to the White House detailing the horrible conditions of her middle school. And next thing you know Bethea’s in the presidential box next to Michelle Obama for President Obama’s first Congressional address.
And Witt broke the story of Shaquanda Cotton, a black 14-year-old from Paris, Texas, who was sentenced to up to seven years in a juvenile detention center after a minor, injury-free altercation with a white school employee. Cotton was released from the state facility shortly after Witt’s piece ran.
Witt’s reporting on Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, a white Knoxville couple that was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by four blacks, also started a national debate on hate crimes.
Plainly, sure as the moon’s pull, Witt makes waves. Let’s see how long the Pentagon puts up with that.