An Oral History Tells Stories Seldom Heard During the War

Kavotsky, Bill
December 2003
Nieman Reports;Winter2003, Vol. 57 Issue 4, p77
The article recounts the experiences of a correspondent during the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq, highlighted in the book "Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq: An Oral History," by Bill Kavotsky and timothy Carlson. The media headquarters was thinly populated by low-level stringers from the major news bureaus. If the book's goal was to excavate the emotional cost borne by the witnesses to war, the interviews were hitting pay dirt. Many reporters, in particular those from U.S. publications, try to maintain objectivity and impartiality in the ways they cover events. But the interviews, war correspondents spoke frankly about their experiences. In Iraq, journalists were dying. The causes ranged from traffic accidents to shelling and friendly fire and occasional ambushes. May reporters observed that it was not possible to remain totally objective under fire. Some said embedded reporting was fine as long as it was combined with unilaterals for balanced and complete coverage. Reporters grew close to the soldiers they traveled with and some were handed a grenade during a desperate firefight. There was a cultural clash between U.S. news organizations and the European and Arab press, who showed their audiences the nonsanitized version of the brutality of war.


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