Embed cred: how close is too close for embedded reporters?
It must have taken all of 10 minutes after I showed up at Ali Al Salem air base Ali Al Salem Air Base (IATA: OKAS) is an airfield situated in Kuwait approximately 23 miles from the Iraqi border. The airfield is owned by the Kuwaiti Government and during Operation Telic hosted the Royal Air Force, American aircraft and US Marines along with their in Kuwait for word to filter back stateside state·side
1. Of or in the continental United States.
2. Alaska Of or in the 48 contiguous states of the United States.
1. that HMLA-267 (a Marine light attack helicopter A helicopter specifically designed to employ various weapons to attack and destroy enemy targets. squadron) was being covered by The Wall Street Journal, as represented by yours truly. The support networks between military families are very sophisticated and Internet-savvy. My articles quickly raced through email groups. But the messages I received were rarely about the stories. The Marines were cut off from email shortly before the invasion began. Instead it was personal. "Is my husband okay?" "Say hello to Bob." "Can you tell me how he's doing?" "Is everyone safe?" "Please give him a hug for me" I wasn't sure what would have happened if I'd tried to give a macho Cobra helicopter pilot a hug, so I didn't follow through on that one, but a lot of the other messages were answered and greetings passed on. I sometimes felt like the squadrod's designated Red Cross representative.
The American public was inundated in·un·date
tr.v. in·un·dat·ed, in·un·dat·ing, in·un·dates
1. To cover with water, especially floodwaters.
2. with the coverage of the Iraq conflict, but the pressure inherent in the relationship between the military and the 600-odd journalists who covered them, were little explored. We were trying to serve our readers, listeners, and audience without endangering the troops. We wanted to make friends without losing perspective and transmit information using sandstorm-befouled equipment as we bumped along together toward Baghdad.
Bill Katovsky, a former researcher at the Brookings Institution Brookings Institution, at Washington, D.C.; chartered 1927 as a consolidation of the Institute for Government Research (est. 1916), the Institute of Economics (est. 1922), and the Robert S. Brookings Graduate School of Economics and Government (est. 1924). , and Timothy Carlson, a former staff writer for the Los Angles Herald Examiner, have written Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq. It is a work of oral history based on interviews with 61 people who were involved in covering the war, from photographers and military public-affairs officers, to drivers and fighting soldiers, even a peace activist A peace activist is a political activist who strives for peace, and against war. Peace activists are part of the peace movement. The role played by peace activists in preventing wars have been questioned in a paper published by Dr. . The introductions can be clunky, especially some failed attempts at humor, but they are short and only meant to provide context. The book may not automatically appeal to the average reader because journalists like to talk shop. But anyone interested in the profession or firsthand experience of the war would be well served by picking it np.
The book illuminates the differences between the demands of diverse types of news organizations. For newspaper reporters, the job meant a story once or twice a day. For television, it was about overcoming the enormous technical hurdles of near constant broadcasting. After returning to the States, I was particularly jealous of Evan Wright, embedded with a Marine recon team The Recon Team is the name of a group of several fictional characters from . Just as many Mini-Cons do, its members form a specialized team - in this case, to back up the Autobots and perform reconnaissance. for Rolling Stone rolling stone
a restless or wandering person magazine, who had the luxury of waiting until he got back to write three long, fantastic articles about his experience. Not only did he have the time to construct a coherent and almost artistic narrative, but also he was writing for a publication willing to print the unexpurgated unexpurgated
(of a piece of writing) not censored by having allegedly offensive passages removed
Adj. 1. unexpurgated - not having material deleted; "volumes of the best plays, unexpurgated"- Havelock Ellis musings of the Marines. It is almost impossible to quote a Marine without colorful cuss words three or four times in each sentence, and without that cursing their iterations feel bowdlerized and false. Wright could include the homoerotic ho·mo·e·rot·ic
1. Of or concerning homosexual love and desire.
2. Tending to arouse such desire.
Adj. 1. joking, their violent fantasies and even their discussions of bowel movements. None of this would have been suitable for The Wall Street Journal's readers over their morning coffee and cereal.
From a personal angle, it was nice to know that I was not the only fool who contracted a foot infection in the miniature swamps of my sealed, rubber chem-bio boots. And neither was I alone in having both serious nightmares before the war and none whatsoever during it, if only due to perpetual exhaustion.
The embed system gave rise to a series of complaints by journalism critics and journalists themselves. Reporters agreed not to disclose certain types of information like the location of military units or plans for future operations, and commanders could impose embargoes--blackout periods such as at the very start of the ground war. But such limits don't seem unreasonable in time of war, and in my experience never seriously got in the way of my reporting what I thought was important. Moreover, the embed system must be judged in comparison with the likely alternatives. Take, for instance, the first Gulf War: In 1991, most of the information was pumped out of official stations of the Pentagon either in the Middle East or in Washington. To the extent that it wasn't was much to the credit of independent reporters like the late Michael Kelly This could refer to:
Another major criticism of the embed coverage in practice was that it provided a scattershot scat·ter·shot
Covering a wide range in a random way; indiscriminate: "his habit of scattershot comment on whatever issue catches his eye" Howell Raines. view of the war, narrative slices so fine that they provided no context or bigger picture. But that critique ovelooks the fact that most news organizations compiled their coverage of the war from a variety of sources: embeds and independent journalists filing reports from Baghdad, Kuwait, Jordan, and the Kurdish-controlled territories in Northern Iraq, as well as researchers, editors, and bureau chiefs working in domestic offices to compile articles or broadcasts. The Journal, for instance, wove wove
Past tense of weave.
a past tense of weave
wove, woven weave together coverage from embeds, from the Pentagon's briefing centers in Qatar and Washington and unilaterals converging from numerous directions. That was more than some papers, perhaps, but fewer than other major dailies and certainty as much as wire services like the AP and 24-hour news channels. Indeed, one of the book's greatest shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.
Shortcomings may also be:
A third criticism of the embed system is that it led to a blurring of the border between reporter and soldier; that in practice, the reporters became too close to the troops to write critically or objectively. That accusation also cuts directly against my own experiences. Though the other reporters and I ate with the troops, slept next to them, and endured hostile fire In insurance law, a combustion that cannot be controlled, that escapes from where it was initially set and confined, or one that was not intended to exist.
A hostile fire differs from a friendly fire, which burns in a place where it was intended to burn, such as one confined alongside them, we were professionals, military personnel, and correspondents alike. I can't count the number of times I apologized for an invasive question and heard, "You have to do your job," back from a Marine. In reading CNN CNN
or Cable News Network
Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world. and Time medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta's words about operating on a two-year-old child with severe head injuries, it is difficult to comprehend that he was criticized for trying to save a dying child because it somehow compromised his journalistic detachment. There were also those who derided the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Ron Martz for helping a medic medic: see alfalfa. treat two wounded soldiers and an Iraqi civilian. He told the editors of this book, "There is blood everywhere as Schafer falls back. His blood is not squirting in the air; it's just flowing out of his head ... I'm in the corner, kind of trapped by Schafer, who's laying on top of me and my legs are caught up underneath some of the equipment." One wonders what kind of person doesn't help a gunshot victim lying on top of him or her, Iraqi or American or Senegalese, much less someone they've shared a ride and every meal with for a month. Wherever he or she is, I wouldn't want that person working with me. Katovsky and Carlson tracked down Pfc. Don Schafer recuperating at home. "He kept telling me that I'd be okay, because I kept telling him how tired I was," Schafer recalls. For those who call the media anti-military, it is worth noting just how much respect many of the journalists felt for the soldiers they covered.
In the end, the war was far too short to be a test of the embed program. Over another six months or six years, the quality of the journalism it produced would have been easier to judge.
When I contemplate the success or failure of the embed program, I think about those briefings in Qatar, at the Pentagon's press office, not the numbing recitation rec·i·ta·tion
a. The act of reciting memorized materials in a public performance.
b. The material so presented.
a. Oral delivery of prepared lessons by a pupil.
b. from the podium, but those moments when a questioner, with a newspaper or television transcript clutched in one hand, refuted a bit of stilted stilt·ed
1. Stiffly or artificially formal; stiff.
2. Architecture Having some vertical length between the impost and the beginning of the curve. Used of an arch. Pentagonese by saying, "But an embed with the 3rd I.D." or "ah embed with the 1st Marine Division reported ... " And that's why we were there.
Nicholas Kulish was embedded with one of the Marine Expeditionary Force's helicopter squadrons for The Wall Street Journal.