Security at the source: embedding journalists as a superior strategy to military censorship

Brandenburg, Heinz (2007) Security at the source: embedding journalists as a superior strategy to military censorship. Journalism Studies, 8 (6). pp. 948-963. ISSN 1461-670X

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Abstract

The aim of this article is to evaluate the merits and pitfalls of the Pentagon's embed programme during the Iraq war. An in-depth analysis of the structure, purpose and practice of embedding allows an assessment of the changes in media treatment that embedding produces in comparison with previous military campaigns. While embedding journalists increases access and reduces censorship, their integration as individuals into military units makes them adapt, internalize military logic, and empathize with troops. Embedding can benefit both sides, military and media, and help to improve their historically troublesome relationship. The danger of embedding lies in its ingenuity: by satisfying their professional and economic needs and demands, journalists and media organizations can effectively be co-opted. Ultimately, the paper questions the notion that decreases in censorship and increases in access necessarily and invariably guarantee freedom of the press.