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.
“Perhaps the most damaging effect of ’embedding’ is to soften the brutality of any military occupation and underplay hostile local response to it.
“Above all, the very fact of a correspondent being with an occupying army gives the impression that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, countries which have endured 30 years of crisis and warfare, can be resolved by force.”
It confines reporters “to a small and atypical segment of the political-military battlefield” and “puts limitations on location and movement.”
This makes it impossible or, at least, extremely difficult to get at the truth in order to analyse what is happening across the whole arena of conflict.
From “The War You Don’t See” by John Pilger