A More Nuanced Approach to the Fourth Estate
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
The media and the military have very different views of where the balance between operational security and openness should lie. The military has struggled to find the optimal arrangement between inclusion and exclusion of media on the battlefield. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the most extensively reported war to date. One of the distinctive features of Operation Iraqi Freedom was the practice of embedding, the Department of Defense DoD placing journalists within specific troop units to cover the conflict. This represented a significant shift of a policy that had strictly limited press access less than a decade earlier. This monograph examines the DoDs rationale for choosing this time and conflict to implement such a shift in its approach towards the media. The history of the military and the media has been long and laced with considerable tension. A historical examination of the tension and relationship addresses the dissatisfaction among the military and the media with previous policies and the drivers of change. Technological changes facilitating the broadcast of information, increasingly media-savvy opponents, changes in the social demands for information, and the political leaders need to garner public support all influenced DoDs use of the embedded reporting concept for Operation Iraqi Freedom. DoDs stated reason for the new program is only a partial explanation for program implementation. This monograph argues that the DoD sought to assure patriotic coverage and increase voluntary propaganda activity by the national media without the overt control measures used in the past to protect security. An examination of the successes and shortcomings of the program from a DoD and media perspective help reveal the risks DoD will take maintaining the program and permit an assessment of factors that might support continued use or discontinuation of the program in a future conflict.
- Information Science
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics