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Embedded journalism

An embedded civilian journalist taking photographs of US soldiers in Panama.

Embedded journalism refers to news reporters being attached to military units involved in armed conflicts. While the term could be applied to many historical interactions between journalists and military personnel, it first came to be used in the media coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The United States military responded to pressure from the country's news media who were disappointed by the level of access granted during the 1991 Gulf War and in the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

At the start of the war in March 2003, as many as 775 reporters and photographers were traveling as embedded journalists. [1] These reporters signed contracts with the military promising not to report information that could compromise unit position, future missions, classified weapons and information they might find. [2][3] When asked why the military decided to embed journalists with the troops, Lt. Col. Rick Long of the U.S. Marine Corps replied, "Frankly, our job is to win the war. Part of that is information warfare. So we are going to attempt to dominate the information environment."[4]

Gina Cavallaro, a reporter for the Army Times, said, "They’re [the journalists] relying more on the military to get them where they want to go, and as a result, the military is getting smarter about getting its own story told."[5]

As an illustration of the control exerted over embedded reporters, the U.S. Coalition Forces Land Component Command in Kuwait pulled the credentials of two embedded journalists from the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia, reportedly for publishing a picture of a bullet-ridden Humvee parked in a Kuwaiti camp. [5]

The ethics of embedded journalism are considered as controversial [6] [7], while "unembedded" journalism is associated with courage and independence. [8]

Contents

[edit] Criticism

“ We were a propaganda arm of our governments. At the start the censors enforced that, but by the end we were our own censors. We were cheerleaders. ”

—Charles Lynch[9]

The practice has been criticized as being part of a propaganda campaign and an effort to keep reporters away from civilian populations and sympathetic to invading forces; for example by the documentary film War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Embed critics objected that the level of military oversight was too strict and that embedded journalists would make reports that were too sympathetic to the American side of the war, leading to use of the alternate term "inbedded journalist" or "inbeds". "Those correspondents who drive around in tanks and armored personnel carriers," said legendary journalist Gay Talese in an interview, "who are spoon-fed what the military gives them and they become mascots for the military, these journalists. I wouldn't have journalists embedded if I had any power!... There are stories you can do that aren't done. I've said that many times."[10]

Joint training for war correspondents started in November 2002 in advance of the March 2003 start of the war in Iraq.

[edit] Dangers

IEDs are the main cause of death and injury to NATO soldiers in the War in Afghanistan therefore journalists embedded with them are at the same risk. On December 30, Canadian journalist Michelle Lang was killed while travelling with Canadian soldiers in the southern province of Kandahar.

In August 2009 Andi Jatmiko, a journalist working for the Associated Press news agency, lost his foot after the military vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb, and his colleague, photographer Emilio Morenatti, was seriously injured. In another incident the same month, Cami McCormick, an American journalist working for CBS, was injured when the armoured vehicle she was travelling in hit an explosive.

In 2009 there also was a number of kidnappings in Afghanistan involving foreign journalists travelling independently, outside the protection of military forces. Guardian correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad was held for under a week before Christmas [11] [12].

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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