Saturday, September 19, 2009

When Does Transparency Become Invisibility

Very interesting post at the Columbia Journalism Review on the changing relations between media and US military in Iraq (thanks to Marc Lynch's tweet). Lots of interesting stuff here, including the idea that the US military is the most transparent in the world (more so than the Canadians if you ask the folks on the parliament's defence committee); that Petraeus and his folks did not see the media as an adversary to be contained (perhaps as a tool to be manipulated?); and that some of the responsibility of declining access is due to cutbacks on the media's side with fewer reporters and less time spent in Iraq.

A few key quotes from the piece:
Yet the military is increasingly reticent to deal with those who do remain. Even driving onto some military bases for interviews requires embed approval—a form which asks reporters, including those based in Iraq, to submit samples f their work and story ideas. Coverage is often killed by bureaucracy.
American reporters since last year have been denied the access badges that are given to any U.S. contractor. The badges prevent them from having to wait in areas most vulnerable to suicide bombers in order to enter the Green Zone.
But if the sophistication of the troops has increased, it’s not always mirrored among military public-affair officers, who tend to have far less contact with Iraqis.

Definitely a worthwhile read--a quick education on the state of embedding today.

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