Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Embedded and Taking Flak

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Embedded and Taking Flak

"The 600 embedded correspondents have clearly braved difficult conditions to bring viewers and readers the most vivid, compelling and instantaneous coverage in the history of war. But they are taking considerable flak for overly sympathetic reporting, dismissed by some as part of the military propaganda machine...."I don't think 'embed' means 'in bed,' " says Kathryn Kross, CNN's Washington bureau chief. 'I can't imagine an alternative that would give us this kind of access, this kind of firsthand view, and be this comprehensive.' .... Whatever the drawbacks of embedded journalism, most media people agree it's a vast improvement" (Howard Kurtz, "Embedded, and Taking Flak," Washington Post, 3/31/03)

Writing only one month into the start of the Gulf War (round 2), Howard Kurtz is commenting on the system of embedded reporters, something unheard of in the first Gulf War. Though there are obvious advantages to allowing reporters to be first-hand observers of war- riding, sleeping, and eating alongside the troops- embeddment also has its share of critics. By being so closely involved with the soldiers, i.e. "in bed" with them, critics argue that it might be harder to report objectively. There is the fear of embedded reporters losing the "big picture" and only seeing what is in front of them (e.g. the trail of humvees making their way across the desert, like so many trained elephants in a circus, to reach the next destination).

Though it makes sense that there is some truth to this criticism of embeddment, I would agree with Kurtz that the advantages offered to embedded reporters outweigh its disadvantages. Being allowed to be "up close and personal" with the troops offers the American public a bird's eye view of what is going on over in Iraq. The picture is not a pretty one, as lives are lost on both sides every day. As Kurtz explains, "War, it turns out, is a far more messy enterprise."


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good discussion of the material.

Did embedding create a postive relationship between reporters and the units they covered that resulted in slanted coverage in favor of the war? Or was the coverage merely sympathetic to our soldiers in the field but otherwise able to report on the reality of war? As a policy made by the pentagon did embedding serve its purpose?

4/16/2007 9:26 PM  

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