Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bush will add more troops, network news won't add more reporters

As I was browsing through one of my favorite entertainment sites, the Hollywood Reporter, I couldn't help but notice that in the midst of the latest movie reviews and exciting pre-Academy Award previews, there was an interesting politically focused, hard-news feature article on Friday's homepage.

Entitled "Network news stable despite troop increase", Paul J. Gough explores the current status of media crews in Iraq and interviews top executives from CNN, ABC and CBS News organizations. All three network execs explained that despite Pres. Bush's call for an additional 20,000+ troops, they have no intentions to add additional reporters to cover the new Iraqi initiatives.

For these networks, security--not covering stories--takes priority. CNN International President Chris Cramer said in his interview, "we're mindful of the tragedies that have happened to our colleagues, including ourselves, over the last few years. Safety and security is absolutely paramount, and the coverage of the story is secondary."

Reporters covering war conflicts should be honored for their sacrifice but the safety-priority instigates concerns of reporter credibility. Audiences dependant on their stories can't help but wonder if reporters are capturing the real story, the sugar-coated story or the safe story. What if a great deal of progress isn't being covered simply because reporters can't be transient, can't move outside safe zones and venture through highways and byways to explore the progress and not just the tragredy? Or, what if the very severity of the tragedy hasn't been translated and audiences are only privy to the tip of the iceberg because the real misery is too dangerous to access.

Covering conflict (particularly war) provides an ethical challenge: balancing the safety of reporters with a reporter's obligation to seek and find truth.

Check out Paul J. Gough's article:




At Saturday, January 13, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

Before I read your post, I was thinking of writing on the same topic, after learning from an AP article that another AP employee was killed in Iraq. Reporters without borders says that 94 journalists have been killed in the four years since the Iraq War began, according to the AP article. I feel that first and foremost, safety should be the first priority when war reporting. Getting the story second. No one should ever have to die over a story.

At Sunday, January 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You raise some provocative points. War reporting is dangerous ... and even more dangerous today. Yet the journalists covering war have requested the assignment. Would there be enough journalists to go abroad if the networks did decide to maintain a certain ratio of reporters to soldiers?

And what do you think of journalists who are embedded in the military. Are they able to maintain "objectivity"?


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