On War Coverage

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Barry
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On War Coverage

Post by Barry » Fri May 12, 2006 1:27 pm

Philadelphia Inquirer
May 12, 2006
By Wade Zirkle

When media pull back, coverage is a casualtyBy Wade Zirkle
While many journalists were embedded with U.S. military units during the initial invasion of Iraq, today such deployments are few and far between. Today instead, what is often portrayed as reports from "on the ground" are more often what we veterans call "balcony reporting."

The embed program allowed journalists to live, eat, sleep and patrol with a company- or platoon-size unit for an extended period of time. Reporters got to know the soldiers personally and learned to evaluate the battlefield from their perspective - the good, the bad and the ugly. This unique vantage point gave journalists a sincere understanding of the decision-making process in full view of the combat implications as they occur in real time. It also gave them insights into the areas of operations and contact with Iraqis.

As a platoon leader, I was at first uncomfortable with the program. Soon, however, the courage and professionalism of the journalists erased my doubts. They took the time to get to know the men and women engaged on the battlefields, to understand their roles and responsibilities, and to examine the broader implications of the mission. I didn't always agree with them, but I respected their dedication to report events from the same vantage point as those who are fighting this war and the Iraqis who will live with the consequences.

As we have moved from invasion to fighting an insurgency, this perspective has largely been abandoned. We've gone from 692 journalists embedded with coalition units during the invasion to 32 today, according to the Defense Department. The result is an information void from which the American public cannot fully evaluate the mission.

Some dedicated journalists still feel it imperative to journey out with those fighting this war to see what they see, hear what they hear, and live through what they must live through. And some have paid the same price, through death and injury, that so many of our colleagues in combat have paid. Such committed professionals should be commended and honored.

Yet, with increasing regularity, some in the media position themselves in Baghdad's secure Green Zone or bases established outside of "hot zones." They attempt to interview troops not in the field, but only as they return from missions. Grunts call it the "vulture syndrome," with reporters going from one returning patrol to another hoping to find a unit that has recently been engaged in combat. If there was violence, or there are deaths to be reported, there's interest. If not, if the news is positive, it's of little use and thus not reported.

Make no mistake: Death and violence are products of any war, and this will be a long war. However, without firsthand accounts of what is actually taking place in and throughout Iraq, the media can provide only secondary and limited perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that continue to unfold.

With a national unity government forming and security forces becoming increasingly capable, Iraq is at a crossroads. Yet it seems that the media are generally more intent on a hindsight review (WMDs, disbanding the Iraqi army, invasion-force troop levels) instead of covering current events on the ground. It's almost as if they've given up on the mission, and are now merely penning its obituary.

However, for many of us who have recently returned from Iraq, we view much of the media coverage the same way as someone who has read a novel and compares it with its film adaptation: the movie is usually dramatic and sensational, but often not loyal to the integrity of the book's storyline.


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Wade Zirkle (wzirkle@vetsforfreedom.org) is a combat veteran of the Iraq war and cofounder, with David Bellavia, of Vets for Freedom. He plans to return to Iraq this summer to report from the front lines.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
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Corlyss_D
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Re: On War Coverage

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri May 12, 2006 1:33 pm

Barry Z wrote:Philadelphia Inquirer
May 12, 2006
By Wade Zirkle

When media pull back, coverage is a casualtyBy Wade Zirkle
While many journalists were embedded with U.S. military units during the initial invasion of Iraq, today such deployments are few and far between. Today instead, what is often portrayed as reports from "on the ground" are more often what we veterans call "balcony reporting."
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

You already got the Post of the Day Award . . . .

They should call it "Safe Hotel Barroom Journalism."
Corlyss
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Fri May 12, 2006 3:04 pm

Barry to the front!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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