“Salute to military” ads canceled

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Source: FineLine: The Newsletter On Journalism Ethics, vol. 2, no. 8 (November/December 1990), p. 8.

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The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson scrapped plans for a “salute to military personnel” scheduled for Veteran’s Day after complaints from newspaper staffers, including editors.

The classified ads, similar to ones offered for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, presumably would have been purchased by friends and families of servicemen and women.

Star executive editor Steve Auslander said that when he saw the promotion for the ads, his advice was “cancel them or give them away.”

Auslander said that they have received “vitriolic” letters from readers, some of them accusing newspaper executives of being “war profiteers.”

But comments from readers were mild compared to comments made by newsroom employees. At a staff meeting, complaints were made about the commercialism of the ads.

Star ombudsman, Leo Della Betta noted in his column that classified salutes on Veteran’s Day have been around for years, but the situation in the Persian Gulf made this Veteran’s Day different.

As the ombudsman wrote, “Patriotism and commercialism are always a distasteful coupling, and the newsroom reaction again proved that.”