Sunday, November 8, 2015

Embedded: Land of the Free?

Lily Bradley

As of the beginning of this year, there are approximately 1.4 million people serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, this number has been pretty constant since the horrific events of September 11th, 2001. (In fact, as a person who was in kindergarten at the time of the terrorist attacks, I can't remember the world pre-9/11.) While much has changed in those fourteen years, one thing has been a constant staple in the lives of American citizens: war.

And with war, comes media coverage. And with media coverage, comes journalists.

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Throughout the Iraq War, journalists were at the forefront. Often times journalists could be found with the soldiers, chronicling the everyday lives of the brave men and women fighting for our freedom millions of miles away.

But the struggles that overseas journalist face are no different than those faced by the media back home - pressure for deadlines and new, fresh story ideas will always be present no matter the location of the journalist.

But for embedded journalists, where is the line drawn between serving as a watch dog and protecting and respecting your source (who in this case is protecting you in more ways than one)? Just how "free" is an embedded journalist?

Embedded journalism refers to news reporters being attached to military units involved in armed conflicts. The term first became more widely used in the media coverage following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

As mentioned in the New York Times blog article entitled "The Uneasy Media-Military Relationship" both military personnel and embedded journalists have the best intentions while doing their jobs. However, conflicts and tension can arise between the two.

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Within journalism, healthy relationships are the key, integral path to success. In this case, the development of solid relationships between reporter and source is crucial for not only job security but also personal safety.

However, it is my personal belief that sometimes journalist can go too far and cross boundaries in order to be the first to break the news.

For example, the NYT blog mentions a journalist who released the fact that soldiers were killed before the families of the victims could even be notified.

Imagine being a family member of a victim... would you like to wait in anticipation to find out if your brother, sister, mother, father, daughter, or son was killed while fighting on behalf on their country? I know I sure wouldn't. Even as a journalist, no story is so important to me that I could forget to honor the families of those involved.

After all, a journalist's work isn't for himself. But rather, a journalist's work is for others.

However in retrospect, I understand that the war is also fought in "public opinion" back home on U.S. turf. People want to be accurately informed of what is going, even if its taking place on the other side of the world. The importance of the events outweighs the distance by so much more when dealing with war.

War has the ability to impact everyone's life regardless of it they realize it or not.

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Thank you to the brave men and women who fight everyday on behalf of the United States. May God bless you.

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