A military journalist's job is public relations and spin while non military journalist's job is to inform the public. In times of war job roles and goals can and have in the past conflicted. Embedded journalists are not military journalists but they do suffer from many of the same restrictions.

An embedded journalist is a non-military journalist who is officially attached to a military unit. This means they are under the protection as well as supervision of the military. This translates directly to officially sanctioned and previously agreed upon censorship.

Journalists embedded with the US military sign an agreement before they join up with the military forces called the "Coalition Forces Land Component Command Ground Rules Agreement" which “forbids the release of information that pertains to ‘ongoing engagements' without a security review”. 1

Journalists embedded with the US military receive training and protective gear similar to the military forces for nuclear-biological-chemical attack. They have also received military support in order be immunized in a similar fashion as the military forces. The journalist must supply other equipment such as flak jackets if they are desired. 1

They are expected to go where they are told and not to go anywhere else. They are expected to not get in the way and to stay safe as far as possible. They are restricted in giving information that could put the troops at risk. The are also expected to be journalists, to be freethinking and to not be simple mouthpieces for the military. There is an inherent conflict in these expectations.

Embedded journalists are also part of a “news pool” of journalists and expected to share information received with non-pool journalists. The media has inherent conflicts of interest to deal with between large networks and smaller local journalists in terms of just who gets to be embedded and just who get to be “pool”. 2

Independent journalists are not necessarily disallowed but there is some question of their viability even outside of the fact that they do not receive direct military protection. Clarence Page of the Washington Times (in the following blockquote) states: 1

The Pentagon assures us that reporters who don't want to go along with the boot camp, the embedding or the guidelines will be allowed to roam around and ferret information on their own, as some reporters did in Vietnam. Yet, as the Committee to Protect Journalists pointed out in a letter of concern to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week (full-disclosure alert: I am a member of CPJ's board), U.S. officials have offered “no convincing guarantees that 'unilateral' reporting (non-embedded journalists) ... will be allowed to proceed without interference."

1 http://washingtontimes.com/commentary/20030311-4538396.htm

2 http://www.emonline.com/newspro/012703affils.html

for a general background in televsion journalism:

3 book by by Don Flournoy and Robert Stewart CNN Making News in the Global Market

4 book by Bernard Goldberg Bias


Another interesting site I've been /msged:
(if the link doesn't work go to The Register and search
for "pentagon airstrike".) I don't believe it.

An embedded journalist is a news reporter attached to a military unit involved in a conflict situation. This term arose during media coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, although the concept is hardly new. At the outbreak of war in March 2003, as many as 775 reporters and photographers had signed contracts with the military that allowed them to travel with the military, thus providing them with some degree of protection, but which limited what they could report on. While embedded journalism has been widely lauded for the unprecedented access it allows to the media, some have argued that it leads to distorted or limited reports, where facts are blown up out of all proportion or else obscured.

The independent journalist Dahr Jamail, while he describes himself as an embedded journalist, chose to 'embed' himself with the people of Iraq rather than with the military, seeking to report on "stories of real life" rather than "the usual parroting of US military propaganda". It has been argued that this enabled him to report more freely on the apparent atrocities being committed on a daily basis. Other reporters in Iraq also chose to follow this route, reporting on stories that often went uncovered by journalists attached to the military. War Feels Like War, a film by Esteban Uyarra, tracks independent journalists reporting on the second Gulf War without the benefit- or, perhaps, hindrance- of military affiliation.

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