Media Ethics and Society

Pros and Cons of Embedded Journalism

A journalist’s job is to report the truth to the public. The amount of power they are given with this task is immense. They have the ability to manipulate the news at the public’s expense. One would hope, though, they their first priority is the honest truth to the public. A very difficult place to practice this trade is in the military and reporting on war. A journalist must look to report the truth without harming themselves or the military by telling too much too soon. They must violate their own ethical value by submitting to secrecy and determining which truths are and are not necessary to tell.

Journalism in History
Journalists have had their part in reporting on war for a while now. They reached their peak in the Vietnam War when they were allowed full coverage of the war. This allowed the public to see war in action, and the result was not pretty. The romantic view of war went out the window as the public witnessed the brutal reality of what their country was involved with. American citizens no longer supported their country as they once did; they did not see a purpose for such violence. The effects of embedded journalism in the Vietnam War led the media to put restrictions on future reporting of the war.

Embedded Journalism in the Iraq War
Today, in an attempt to secure the safety of both the journalists and the troops, reporters use embedded journalism as a way to get information. Through this method, they are involved with the actual troops and move their movements. This allows journalist to get a hands on report of the front lines, and they are able to get information from the inside.

Pros

Embedded journalism gives reporters much more access than ever had before. They can see and report the conflict first hand and they are protected while being immersed in the action.

Cons
The faults to embedded journalism fall in the areas of independence and bias. The reporters risk losing their independent stance when they are thrown in with the military, who is protecting them. If they make a bad story, or report secret information, they could lose their relationship with the troops. They also have to think about those affected by certain information; if they are reporting an attack, they must consider the families of those killed and injured.

The reporter also risks losing some of their story from censorship of the government. Also, by being totally immersed with one side of the conflict, they are failing to get the other side of the story.

Is It Worth It?
Embedded journalism allows journalists to tell from a new perspective. They have an opportunity to get the truth that may not be getting reported. It is a difficult task to do so, however, while still maintaining independence and staying true to their ethical values.

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