Successfully reporting on the military

  • Event: 2019 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Sam LaGrone of USNI News; Sig Christenson of San Antonio Express-News; Sarah Rafique of KTRK-Houston
  • Date/Time: Sunday, Jun. 16 at 11:30am
  • Location: Meyerland
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

The military has its own unique culture. But despite its exclusivity, the Pentagon requires a consistent level of scrutiny from the working press on behalf of the American people as they too have problems we see in everyday society. From war on foreign battlefields and secret classified missions to sexual assault and post-traumatic stress, service members can be voiceless as they are often discouraged from speaking candidly to the media. Beyond the troops, understanding the flow of billions in defense spending and how they touch communities around the country is hard. For the new or even seasoned reporter, the task of covering the largest U.S. government agency can be daunting. This session will be current "notes from the field" from experienced journalists on how to navigate these closed-off waters in order to effectively report on the U.S. military.

Speaker Bios

  • Sig Christenson has covered the military for the San Antonio Express-News since 1997 and logged eight reporting tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, starting in 2003. He’s written about the impact of multiple war-zone tours on GIs and their families, covered the beginning and end of the surge, and did projects that include “The Only Retreat,” a series on a failed gunship attack in Iraq. He co-founded Military Reporters & Editors. sigc@express-news.net | Twitter: @saddamscribe

  • Sam LaGrone has been a defense and national security reporter since 2008. Since 2009, Sam has specialized in international naval and maritime coverage -- first with Jane's Defence Weekly in its Washington, D.C. bureau and then as the founding editor of USNI News. He has also written for Popular Science, Wired, the San Diego Union-Tribune, Defense News, Air Force Times and The News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

  • Sarah Rafique is an investigative producer at ABC 13 in Houston, where she focuses on data reporting and narrative writing. She previously worked as an investigative reporter at KXAN in Austin. Her investigation into Texas' troubled toll road system resulted in a state agency waiving more than $1.3 billion in late fees for customers in 2018. She previously worked at newspapers covering Fort Hood and West Texas and has been recognized statewide and nationally for breaking news, features and investigative reporting. Twitter: @SarahRafique

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