By David Vaina. Earlier this week, a controversy over some CNN reporting from Iraq focused attention on a once-common term that is rarely heard these days — the embedded journalist. The network drew fire from several congressmen who characterized the video as enemy propaganda and asked the Pentagon to ban CNN journalists from embedding with US forces in Iraq. When the Iraq war started, the Pentagon decision to allow journalists to live, travel and report alongside the military—in stark contrast to the Gulf War and the conflict in Afghanistan when they were often confined to briefing rooms—had a major impact on coverage.
Why News of Iraq Dropped
The Portrait from Iraq - How the Press Has Covered Events on the Ground
Embedded journalism earned itself a bad name in Iraq and Afghanistan. The phrase came to evoke an image of the supposedly independent correspondent truckling to military mentors who spoon-feed him or her absurdly optimistic information about the course of the war. To many, the embedded journalist is a grisly throwback to First World War-style reporting, when appalling butchery in the trenches was presented as a series of judiciously planned advances by British generals. Many allegations against the system of "embedding" journalists, mainly with the American or British military, are unfair.
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Embedded reporters and photographers are attached to a specific military unit and permitted to accompany troops into combat zones. Embedded journalism was introduced by the U. Department of Defense during the Iraq War —11 as a strategic response to criticisms about the low level of access granted to reporters during the Persian Gulf War —91 and the early years of the Afghanistan War which began in Although battlefield reporting dates to ancient times, embedded journalism added a new dimension to war coverage. While journalists had enjoyed fairly wide access in the Vietnam War , some commanders felt that the depiction of that war in the media had contributed to declining public support for it. In early , as it became increasingly apparent that a war between the United States and Iraq was imminent , the Department of Defense offered journalists the opportunity to join U.