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Reporters on the Battlefield. The Embedded Press System in Historical Context

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The March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq coincided with the first broad implementation of an innovative means of wartime coverage known as embedded press. Under this system, over 600 reporters from a diverse range of American and international news organizations were embedded in U.S. military units, i.e., they traveled with the soldiers in their units, saw what the soldiers saw, and were under fire when troops were-all while bringing live televised coverage of the war into living rooms around the world. Although the embedded press system has been heralded as a great success, no systematic evaluation of this system has yet been undertaken. This research seeks to address this need by examining the role of the embedded press in Iraq within the broader context of historical press-military relations. In particular, we focus on the tensions arising from long-standing differences between the military and the press with regard to the dissemination of information during war- time While the military is focused chiefly on preventing information of value from falling into enemy hands, the press aims to broadcast the full story to the public. To examine the role of the embedded press, we have constructed an evaluative framework that considers the goals of the press, the military, and the public-the three relevant constituencies for press- military relations. We use this framework to develop a set of measures for evaluating the embedded press system in relation to other options for organizing press-military relations as revealed through comparative case studies. We have conducted preliminary analyses, where possible, using these methods, which will be appropriate for future systematic analyses.

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  • Information Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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