Cover: Reporters on the Battlefield

Reporters on the Battlefield

The Embedded Press System in Historical Context

Published Nov 23, 2004

by Christopher Paul, James J. Kim

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Clear differences between the missions and goals of the press and those of the military, particularly centering around the issues of access and operational security, make historical tensions between the two unsurprising and complete avoidance of tension unlikely. However, significant overlaps, including core goals of professionalism and public service, make cooperation a reasonable possibility. This book traces the back-and-forth interactions between the press and the military over the past several decades. In Vietnam, the press enjoyed high levels of access to events, largely because of the relatively amicable relationship that had developed between the press and the military, particularly in World War II. However, this relationship experienced a significant shift during the Vietnam War-news coverage critical of both the war and the military engendered tensions. The legacy of these tensions significantly influenced military-press relations in later operations in Grenada, Panama, and the first Gulf War. Another notable shift occurred during the first Gulf War, however, establishing the basis for new kinds of press access, which ultimately led to the embedded press system used in the second Gulf War. The outcomes and goals for the press and the military are also explored in relation to each other and those for the public.

"Christopher Paul and James J. Kim, both with the RAND Corporation, trace the lineage of the military-press relationship over the past several decades in 'Reporters On The Battlefield: The Embedded Press System in Historical Context', with a particular focus on the embedded press in Iraq and how information was disseminated by both sides in wartime… This research, compelling and concise, offers an informative read on the sometimes tumultuous military-press relations and how those tensions have been eased with the embedded press system. And with hostilities in Iraq and elsewhere seemingly far from over, both parties still have plenty of opportunities to learn from firsthand experience."

- NationalJournal.com

"Throughout, Paul and Kim (both researchers at the nonprofit RAND Corporation) assess the very different goals of reporters and the military as one of the sources of the tension between the two. They make numerous suggestions for future use of embedded reporters and other approaches such as press pools to facilitate press coverage without limiting military actions. Though brief, this is a highly useful synthesis of a relationship that is widely debated but little understood. Essential. All collections; all levels."

- CHOICE, July 2005

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