Sunday, November 8, 2015

Can Embedded Journalism be Objective?

By: Erika Barth
We live in a world today where journalists are often forced to make choices about what they should and should not publish with little to no guidance. While there are some ethical guidelines to help make things a little easier to figure out, many of the choices journalists make are decisions that might affect the rest of their lives and careers. One particularly tough spot to be in as a journalist is embedded in the military. These journalists must be careful what they choose to publish due to the life or death nature of the location in which they are publishing about. Living and working with the soldiers they write about presents an interesting dynamic, one in which can easily blur the lines of ethical journalist practices. 

One of the biggest issues an embedded journalist faces is deciding when it is appropriate to publish a story that might harm the group of soldiers stationed with versus the need to keep the general public informed. The article “Recalling Life as anEmbedded Reporter,” is a great example of a personal account from a journalist that lived through such an experience. Through his account, he recalls several instances where his job conflicted with the friendships that he made with the group of soldiers he was stationed with. His story, like many other journalists presents the issue of whether to publish and hurt friends, or to not do his due diligence as a reporter for the job that was assigned.
This can be a very difficult place to be for a journalist. Many times journalists will start to admire and become friends with the group of soldiers they are stationed with which brings up the question of objectivity. Is it possible to be objective when the people you are reporting about might just save your life? Can we as the American public even expect objectivity from these journalists? Although answers remain somewhat of a mystery, especially on how to solve these problems; without the use of embedded journalism, we run the risk of letting ongoing wars become hushed. 

So many of our war veteran’s stories have gone largely untold due to journalists not taking the next step in post war follow-ups. While embedded journalism is important and necessary for current wars, we need to be doing better jobs as journalists to uncover the real stories behind some of the older war veterans. Much of what is taught in school to kids is largely based on the wins and loses of the war, while the stories of actual veterans goes untold. Being the future of the journalism community, its our job to start earlier with interviewing these veterans so that more stories can be told from people who were actually there to share their experiences.
As someone who is strongly in favor of the U.S. military, I’m proud to say that projects like “Exit Wounds” are making these soldiers experiences more of a reality. It will be interesting whether the journalism community will also jump on this initiative to make more stories known in the future.  


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