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Communication Embedded Coverage
by
Michel M. Haigh

Introduction

When examining the stories told about the war in Iraq, one notices reporters reporting from the battlefield, “embedded” with the troops. The war in Iraq marked the first time reporters were “living, eating, moving in combat with the unit,” otherwise known as being “embedded” (US Department of Defense, News Transcript, 2003). The use of embedded reporters significantly changed how the story of the Iraq War was told. Research has examined how the use of embedded reporters altered the tone of print and broadcast stories as well as how the stories were framed. In addition, embedded reporters have been asked about their thoughts on how the process worked. In the end, understanding the use of embedded reporters is important, because they altered how the story of the war was told. The strained history and relationship between the press and the military led the two groups to work together and develop the embedded-press system. The war in Iraq was the first war to employ the use of “embeds.” Research shows that embedded reporters provided more positive accounts of the war in Iraq. Embedded reporters state they were able to tell fragmented stories about what was happening in Iraq but were still able to abide by their professional norms and standards. The 24/7 news cycle and advancing technology made telling the story of Iraq more complicated. The US media rarely showed photos of casualties of the war, especially in the first five weeks. Its coverage of Iraq may be considered sanitized compared to coverage shown in the Middle East. In the end, how the story of Iraq was told may have impacted public opinion about the war. Researchers disagree as to why people support a war, but the media and the military must work together to tell a story so the public can decide.

Journals

Research about the press-military relationship, public opinion, and embedded media has appeared in a number of journals. Several of the pieces cited in this article appeared in the International Journal of Press/Politics, the International Communication Gazette, the Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Media, War, and Conflict, and the Atlantic Journal of Communication.

  • Atlantic Journal of Communication.

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    This journal publishes research concerned with communication theory and practice. It includes research on a wide variety of topics and research employing a variety of methods. Public opinion research, new media research, and research discussing visual images have been published.

  • International Communication Gazette.

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    This journal publishes research with an international emphasis. Research published in this journal has examined embedded reporters’ perceptions as well as images of war. The content is varied by topic and method.

  • International Journal of Press/Politics.

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    This journal publishes on a variety of topics and issues. It often discusses public opinion, content analyses, and coverage of war.

  • Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly.

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    This is the flagship journal of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Articles in this journal are often content analyses or experimental in nature. The topics covered are varied. Articles have examined differences in content for embedded reporters and nonembedded reporters as well as survey data of reporters.

  • Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.

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    This is the flagship journal of the Broadcast Education Association. The journal publishes articles discussing a broad range of issues concerning electronic media. Articles employ a variety of communication theories and methods. Articles have examined differences in content for embedded reporters and nonembedded reporters and the impact of images on public opinion.

  • Media, War, and Conflict.

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    This journal concentrates on research examining war, conflict, and terrorism. It explores a variety of topics, including the media-military relationship, journalistic practices in regard to war reporting, and the use of new forms of media. Research on a wide variety of topics and employing a variety of methods has been included, such as public opinion research, new media research, and research discussing visual images.

LAST MODIFIED: 04/24/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756841-0051

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