The Embed Experiment

Friday, March 21, 2008


More than a quarter million American soldiers were deployed at the start of the Iraq War, but they weren't alone. Nearly 800 reporters, prepped for the battlefield and assigned to military units, embedded with the military. NPR's John Burnett was one of them.

Comments [8]

James Pollock from Palo Alto CA

Gee...Johnny Burnett breathlessly told us that the WMDs were finally found, in some trailers by the side of the highway to Syria. Except that it was just traces of obsolete previously destroyed junk. The rightwing radio folk picked up on this erroneous reportage and no one ever 'fessed up. Shortly thereafter, Burnett left the Middle East. All to the good....

Mar. 25 2008 04:08 PM
War On War Off from Austin, Texas

As with the other mainstream media, NPR/PRI was criminally complicit in enabling this illegal and immoral war, yet one would not have gotten a sense of that during your program. Yes, Burnett had a sense he was being played, but even he admitted the aftermath of destruction on Iraqi civilians was not being covered (as it is STILL not being covered). I listened to NPR in vain as the war was revving up, waiting for critical voices to conteract the propaganda the Bush administration was feeding the American people, and pretty much all we got was "reasonable liberals/pacifists" such as Scott Simon marginalizing those critical voices as hopelessly naive. (See Oh, and thereby went my longstanding financial support during pledge drives. Mission accomplished!

Mar. 25 2008 11:57 AM
Robert from NYC

I'd like to have you do a full hour on CNN's crappy coverage. They like to claim they are the most trusted news organization with the BEST teams and frankly they stick! They spew the administrations story regularly with Blitzer making all sorts of judgments and I've been writing to them constantly taking them to task on how they've become the voice of the administration and do very little if anything to present an accurate report. They seem to find gossip more important and seem to like to tear down any dialog. Need I mention the Lou Dobbs effect. Poor man, he can barely get through a sentence and yet spews on and on about Obama's pastor and illegal immigration and "Communist" China. BTW thanks for the this piece it was the best on this topic thus far.

Mar. 24 2008 12:33 PM

I LOVED the embed idea! What I hated was the lack of the other reporting. That's not the fault of the reporters but editors and publishers, who were the storytellers. Embedded reporters did their jobs fine.

Mar. 23 2008 09:30 PM
elizabeth Bouchard from texas

On reporting from Iraq: excellent production. The way you returned weekly to get the NPR reporters sense of how embedding was working, and not, indicated that you had your doubts from the beginning of the embedding process. You followed that hunch. It was also stunning to hear from Iraqui reporter/bloggers. We lose our sense of their high level of culture and deep humanity when we only see partisans and politicians and dazed victims.

Mar. 23 2008 11:06 AM
Sgt. Yvonne C. Vairma from Orlando, FL

On transparency between military and media...
The motto of the school where all public affairs personnel for the entire DOD are trained is "strength through truth." There, I was taught the principle that we work for the American people. It is our duty to be the voice of accountability for what our country is doing in their name, with their tax money, and with their sons and daughters. It is every citizen's democratic right to have their government answer to them, whether the news be good or bad. This principle is beneficial in the long-term on both fronts. When the news is good, the benefits are obvious. When the news is bad, an honest military establishes public trust and enables any errors in the system to be corrected with democratic oversight. In an ideal world all public affairs personnel would have the integrity to uphold that principle.
My hope is that most of us have.

Mar. 22 2008 12:59 PM
Sgt. Yvonne C. Vairma from Orlando, FL

Thank you for this piece on the embed program. As an Army public affairs specialist who served in Kuwait March through August of ‘03, I enjoyed hearing about the experience from the civilian reporter's point-of-view. The piece revealed the depth of coverage, trust and understanding made possible between the press corps and servicemembers, as well as a lack of censorship by public affairs personnel. On the flip side, it brought responsibility for informational balance back into the hands of journalists themselves. It is our job to provide access to our soldiers' stories, but that is where our jurisdiction ends. To strike out and find a wider base of information is still the reporter's job, and I was happy to hear that John, like many of the journalists I met over there, recognized that and seized the opportunities available to him.

Mar. 22 2008 12:55 PM
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