Friday, November 6, 2015

Military and Media: A Tough Relationship

Gentry Bennett

Dangers await those venturing in to a job in the military. How do journalists on the front lines feel? This Washington Post article gives great insight into the feelings of an embedded journalist. A favorite quote, "We are observing these wars from just one perspective, not seeing them whole. When you see my byline from Kandahar or Kabul or Basra, you should not think that I am out among ordinary people, asking questions of all sides. I am usually inside an American military bubble. That vantage point has value, but it is hardly a full picture," gives great insight in to the problem with embedded journalists.

Embedded journalists are only viewing one side of the story. When The Post writes about a local campus protest, it is not written by someone embedded in the group of protesters. Rather, the article is written by someone that attends the protest and views it from the outside. This gives an objective view of the situation. Objective viewpoints are not the point of journalism in the least. 

When media are embedded into the military, they are only going to receive a subjective view of things. It would be very hard to get the 'enemy' opinion on things, as they are dressed in American military clothing. The photo below shows the stark contrast between military journalists and military personnel. These journalists can be easily identified and picked out as different than the normal military personnel. 
Photo via AdWeek
A large issue in today's society is the targeting of American journalists by various groups in the countries we are currently at war with. Too often, videos of journalists being beheaded are shared online from groups like ISIS. While ISIS is not causing these events everywhere across the globe,  The International Business Times reported on the most deadly countries for journalists in 2014 including the following graphic:
Photo via International Business Times

This graphic shows the immense amount of terror involved with being an embedded journalist. I, for one, did not know that countries like Brazil and Mexico killed journalists just last year. This is another issue with embedded journalists- they will only report on the countries the U.S. is at war with. What about the war on drugs? Why do we not have embedded journalists in the cartels? Is it too dangerous? It seems that military embedded journalists, too, are facing dangers every day.

Further than that, the journalists' independence is mostly taken away by the government. I am certain the government has many protocols and laws they must abide by when reporting on such military issues. In fact, some things are never allowed to be shown to the public. How would it feel to go somewhere to spread public knowledge and only be shut down and told you cannot share your career with others? I think I would feel very discouraged to dedicate my career and risk my life to report on something that would never be shown to the public.

 Is it ethical to still send journalists overseas with the military when they will only be able to retrieve half of the news while risking their lives and independence?

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