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How the media changed
UPI ^ | April 8, 2003 | Martin Walker

Posted on 04/08/2003 6:56:01 AM PDT by Indy Pendance

BASRA, Iraq, April 8 (UPI) -- Something fundamental has happened to the British and U.S. media during this war. Those who have spent time on the front lines with the coalition troops, whether embedded with individual units or traveling independently through liberated Iraq, have learned to love the military.

Time after time, they saved our necks. They put our soft-skinned vehicles behind their armor when the shells came in. They told us when to duck and when it was safe to move. They shared their food and water with us, and were embarrassingly grateful when we let them use our satellite phones to call home. We were embarrassed that it was all we could for them.

We saw how hard they tried to avoid civilian casualties, and the risks they took by their self-restraint. We began to understand their quiet pride in their skills, and the plain decency of the men and women who follow the profession of arms.

When we got lost, U.S. Marines went out of their way to put us right, and British officers sketched "safe" areas on a map. They are kind to one another, and considerate to civilians like us.

"Thank God for the British army," said a grinning UPI photographer Chris Corder (an American) as we tucked in behind the comforting bulk of a Warrior armored infantry vehicle of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards one night outside Basra, and were offered a cup of tea.

Above all, they are no longer "the military." They have become individuals that we have got to know, like little Robert, who to his regret is too short to stand guard outside Buckingham Palace, and has to remain behind doing stores duty.

There is Paul from Northern Ireland who is genuinely upset at the poverty of the Iraqi people he sees and fills his pockets with biscuits and candy to give to the children. There is Sarge, who grumbles that this war is all about oil and is far from sure he likes it. There is Chris, a volunteer from Zimbabwe, whose dream is to play his bagpipes for the Queen, and who hesitantly asks if we can find out if Manchester Union won its match.

With the British troops and the U.S. 3rd Division, with the 101st Airborne and the Marines, with the gunners and the medics and the Air Force and aboard ships, there are hundreds of journalists learning the same lessons, getting to know the same kinds of troops, and realizing that we in the media had better rethink the way we do our work.

One of the consequences of the way the British and Americans have dropped conscription and now use professional armies is that the media and the broader population have become disconnected from their troops.

The military have become a private club, and one that has learned to distrust most of the media, who know little of the people who fight in their country's name. The legacy of wars in dubious causes like Vietnam or some of the British colonial wars has widened the gulf of mutual ignorance and mistrust.

This still happens. At one of the daily briefings at Coalition Command headquarters in Qatar (about 300 miles behind the lines), a large and skeptical media corps became restive at what they saw as military stonewalling or weasel words about responsibility for civilian casualties in the Baghdad bombing.

Journalists on the front lines took a very different view of the need for operational security. We did not even complain when we were ordered to turn off our satellite phones because the Iraqi guns seemed to be able to zero on their transmissions, or when we were asked not to report something.

"Screw the nut on it, mate," a British SAS Special Forces trooper told me when I came across him questioning one of his Iraqi agents inside Basra. "No photos, and not a word until Basra falls -- all right?"

Of course it was alright. Forget journalistic objectivity. There were armed men across the road trying to kill me, and my protection depended on these British troops, many of whom I knew by their first names. There was no question which side I was on.

In the same way, those of us in the field knew that those gloomy armchair pundit accounts from London and Washington of setbacks and "pauses" were missing the point.

We learned to understand the painstaking way the British were gathering intelligence in Basra and steadily separating the Saddam loyalists from the bulk of the population -- so the place finally fell like a house of cards.

Air Marshal Brian Burridge, the British commander, suggests that the hundreds of journalists who have learned a new understanding of the military could change the way the media covers war. It is about time.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: embeddedreport; iraqifreedom; newnormal; warcorrespondents
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1 posted on 04/08/2003 6:56:01 AM PDT by Indy Pendance
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To: Indy Pendance
Well, what do you know!
2 posted on 04/08/2003 6:59:30 AM PDT by manna
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To: Indy Pendance
bump
3 posted on 04/08/2003 7:00:08 AM PDT by RippleFire
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To: Indy Pendance
This reporter "gets it."
4 posted on 04/08/2003 7:00:23 AM PDT by Wolverine
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To: Indy Pendance
Of course it was alright.

He'd better make sure that his spell-checker is all right. Perhaps a graduate of the Associated Press?

5 posted on 04/08/2003 7:00:31 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed ("Democracy, whiskey! And sexy!")
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To: Indy Pendance
"The military have become a private club, and one that has learned to distrust most of the media"

I think that sentence works both ways...

"The media have become a private club, and one that has learned to distrust most of the military"
6 posted on 04/08/2003 7:01:15 AM PDT by m1911
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To: Indy Pendance
Great article. It's a shame that all Americans aren't willing to share the appreciation for the military.

It turns out to have been an excellent idea to have embedded reporters - to put a human face on the folks they typically loathe.

Just one day on the front for these peaceniks/Sadamites would change a lot of perspectives.
7 posted on 04/08/2003 7:03:07 AM PDT by yankeedeerslayer
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To: Indy Pendance
There is Sarge, who grumbles that this war is all about oil and is far from sure he likes it.

Huh? If he doesn't know better, he is completely clueless.

8 posted on 04/08/2003 7:03:20 AM PDT by PackerBoy
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To: Indy Pendance
Something fundamental has happened to the British and U.S. media during this war. Those who have spent time on the front lines with the coalition troops, whether embedded with individual units or traveling independently through liberated Iraq, have learned to love the military.

You have to give the Bush team some real credit here. I think they firmly believe that they can push back on the liberal left wing bias in the U.S. (and world) press simply by letting in some light on the actions of our great fighting men and women of the military. A great strategy and it is clearly working. This must be driving the Dems crazy.

9 posted on 04/08/2003 7:04:46 AM PDT by InterceptPoint
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To: Indy Pendance
wonderful bump
10 posted on 04/08/2003 7:06:17 AM PDT by fightinJAG
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To: Beelzebubba
In proper English, alright is a common and correct contraction.

If you're going to be a spelling cop, at least have a clue.

11 posted on 04/08/2003 7:06:25 AM PDT by Don W (Lead, follow, or get outta the way!)
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To: Indy Pendance
PING!
12 posted on 04/08/2003 7:07:29 AM PDT by LibertyAndJusticeForAll
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To: m1911
I think that sentence works both ways... "The media have become a private club, and one that has learned to distrust most of the military"

I disagree.
I think those in the media had anti-military, anti-government attitudes before they became "journalists" - perhaps is why they became journalists, i.e. "to make a difference".
The media has always been antagonistic towards government and the enforcment arm of government, the military.
The military, OTOH, learned to mistrust them after seeing the disparity between what they know happened and what some "journalist" wrote happened and what their paper published.

13 posted on 04/08/2003 7:07:39 AM PDT by grobdriver
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To: JohnHuang2
ping
14 posted on 04/08/2003 7:08:18 AM PDT by Indy Pendance
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To: Indy Pendance
Thanks -- will read.
15 posted on 04/08/2003 7:09:03 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: grobdriver
Actually, I think we agree. I was thinking of the transformation of "the media" as a whole, not of individuals in it. The change has certainly been aided by the self-selection you mention, especially in the Vietnam/Watergate era.
16 posted on 04/08/2003 7:21:37 AM PDT by m1911
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To: Indy Pendance
Can you fix the link?
17 posted on 04/08/2003 7:24:44 AM PDT by big gray tabby
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To: Indy Pendance
They are kind to one another, and considerate to civilians like us.

In other words, these are the first conservatives these liberal reporters have ever met. Most liberals are immersed in liberal clicks, and write their bile from bias, not experience.

18 posted on 04/08/2003 7:25:28 AM PDT by aimhigh
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To: Indy Pendance
bump
19 posted on 04/08/2003 7:27:10 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: m1911
And most importantly, as I think we agree, the change is for the better.
Embedding journalists was brilliant.
20 posted on 04/08/2003 7:27:51 AM PDT by grobdriver
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To: Indy Pendance
We began to understand their quiet pride in their skills, and the plain decency of the men and women who follow the profession of arms.

BTTT

21 posted on 04/08/2003 7:27:56 AM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: Indy Pendance
One of these days, some of those embedded reporters will be in management positions.

Let's hope they remember all this.
22 posted on 04/08/2003 7:30:27 AM PDT by Pete'sWife (Dirt is for racing... asphalt is for getting there.)
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To: Indy Pendance
There was no question which side I was on.

Tsk tsk tsk. What ever happened to "objectivity"? Who is this man to turn his back on journalism just because he knows the names of those with whom he travels? The NY Times would not be happy with him.

23 posted on 04/08/2003 7:31:12 AM PDT by theDentist (So..... This is Virginia..... where are all the virgins?)
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To: Beelzebubba
"alright" is a very common "British" word, much like "Ok" here.

Remember, on a bugger day, a Brit might put on his waistcoat, alight in his motorcar after he checked under the bonnet, drive down the motorway, or even the dual carriageway to shop at the ironmonger.... instead of putting on a vest on a cold day hopping in the car after checking under the hood, then driving down the road or even espressway to the hardware store.
24 posted on 04/08/2003 7:32:00 AM PDT by MindBender26 (For more news as it happens, stay tuned to your local FReeper station.........)
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To: Indy Pendance
NPR has been complaining loudly about the loss of "objectivity" by embedded reporters.
25 posted on 04/08/2003 7:34:21 AM PDT by Nebullis
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To: Don W
In proper English, alright is a common and correct contraction.

A nonstandard or informal usage is inappropriate for a formal news article. Moreover, the usage is incorrect, even if its informality were acceptable. Even definition number 3 below arguably does not quite apply.

adj : nonstandard usage adv

1: reinforces an assertion, as in "It's expensive all right" [syn: all right, without doubt]

2: sentence-initial expression of agreement [syn: very well, fine, all right, OK]

3: (informal) in a satisfactory or adequate manner; "she'll do okay on her own"; "held up all right under pressure"; (`alright' is a nonstandard variant of `all right') [syn: okay, O.K., all right]

If you're going to be a spelling cop, at least have a clue.

If you're going to engage in a discussion of language issues, at least show some manners.

26 posted on 04/08/2003 7:36:40 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed ("Democracy, whiskey! And sexy!")
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To: Indy Pendance
realizing that we in the media had better rethink the way we do our work

This is why I was in favor of embedding the media from the start. I knew once they saw us in action, they would come around.

27 posted on 04/08/2003 7:40:17 AM PDT by Gamecock (As seen on Taglinus FreeRepublicus - 5th Edition)
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To: big gray tabby
Here's the link, but it looks like UPI is having site trouble right now.

How the media changed

28 posted on 04/08/2003 7:40:19 AM PDT by Indy Pendance
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To: m1911
"one that has learned to distrust most of the media"

This is true. The Army Command and General Staff College has classes on how to deal with the media. We are taught to stop distrusting the media and give them access to the troops. Once they have that access they will realize what great folks we have in the military and the press, as a whole, will become our fans.
29 posted on 04/08/2003 7:44:58 AM PDT by Gamecock (As seen on Taglinus FreeRepublicus - 5th Edition)
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To: yankeedeerslayer
"It turns out to have been an excellent idea to have embedded reporters - to put a human face on the folks they typically loathe."

Let's remember that EMBEDDING REPORTERS is NOT a new idea. We did it in World War II. If you wanted to cover the war, you enlisted, went thru Basic, and became a member of your unit. This isn't all that much different.

That doesn't mean that it isn't a GREAT idea. In fact, many months ago there were several of us, including myself, who suggested exactly what Dubya and the Pentagon ended up doing.

Michael

30 posted on 04/08/2003 7:47:20 AM PDT by Wright is right! (Have a profitable day!)
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To: Wolverine
Sure as hell wasn't written by Helen Thomas.
31 posted on 04/08/2003 7:48:29 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: Indy Pendance
Bumpity bump. Nice thing to read with my coffee.
32 posted on 04/08/2003 7:53:35 AM PDT by GWfan
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To: Indy Pendance
We saw how hard they tried to avoid civilian casualties, and the risks they took by their self-restraint. We began to understand their quiet pride in their skills, and the plain decency of the men and women who follow the profession of arms.

I believe it's called an "epiphany".

33 posted on 04/08/2003 7:55:17 AM PDT by ladtx ("...the very obsession of your public service must be Duty, Honor, Country." D. MacArthur)
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To: Indy Pendance
"Well, it's about bloody time" BUMP
34 posted on 04/08/2003 8:00:01 AM PDT by Maigrey (Member of the Dose's Jesus Freaks, Purple Aes Sedai , Jack Straw Fan Club, and Gonzo News Service)
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To: Nebullis
NPR has been complaining loudly about the loss of "objectivity" by embedded reporters.
The thing to understand that objective journalistTM is merely a label, a brand name like Kleenex--applied to journalists in general but not descriptive of the nature of the person or his role.

The First Amendment guarantees that the government has no role in determining who you choose to listen to or believe. That leaves you free to declare yourself a journalist, even an objective one, without government interference.

The interference you will encounter will come from the Establishment which calls itself by that objective journalistTM name, and which will exploit its PR power to heap scorn and ridicule on you as necessary to cause you to withdraw from competing with them on their turf.


35 posted on 04/08/2003 8:07:04 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: Beelzebubba
A nonstandard or informal usage is inappropriate for a formal news article. Moreover, the usage is incorrect, even if its informality were acceptable. Even definition number 3 below arguably does not quite apply.

The common usage of a language is not fixed in amber for the ages, no matter how much the French like to pretend it is. Language evolves and changes over time. As for "official definitions", please bear in mind that dictionary definitions are often quite subjective and definitions can differ substantially from dictionary to dictionary. In Merriam-Webster's on-line dictionary, for example, I find (note the underlined section):

One entry found for alright. Main Entry: alright
Pronunciation: (")ol-'rIt, 'ol-"
Function: adverb or adjective
Date: 1887
: ALL RIGHT
usage The one-word spelling alright appeared some 75 years after all right itself had reappeared from a 400-year-long absence. Since the early 20th century some critics have insisted alright is wrong, but it has its defenders and its users. It is less frequent than all right but remains in common use especially in journalistic and business publications. It is quite common in fictional dialogue, and is used occasionally in other writing <the first two years of medical school were alright -- Gertrude Stein>.

Note the absence of a definitive judgment that this is "nonstandard usage" and a recognition that this usage is common in journalistic and business publications.

If you're going to engage in a discussion of language issues, at least show some manners.

Language discussions generally get reduced down to arguments of formal grammars and dictionaries vs. the common usage. While I do see a value in standardized English, I think that the grammar and dictionary advocates can often lose sight of the fact that the grammars and dictionaries exist to describe the common usage, the common usage does not exist to comply with grammars and dictionaries. And this becomes a real problem when scholars introduce rules into English that are not native to the common usage (e.g., the "split infinitive", mathematical negation, etc.).

36 posted on 04/08/2003 8:21:46 AM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Indy Pendance
Thanks for the article. Amazing how a bit of real life exposure illuminates the understanding.
37 posted on 04/08/2003 9:04:16 AM PDT by reflecting
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To: aimhigh; Beelzebubba; Question_Assumptions; Don W
While you guys are straining at the gnats, this CAMEL slipped past the spellchecker!
In other words, these are the first conservatives these liberal reporters have ever met. Most liberals are immersed in liberal clicks, and write their bile from bias, not experience.
Can we say clique?

I thought so............

38 posted on 04/08/2003 9:11:27 AM PDT by Elsie (Don't believe every prophecy you read - ESPECIALLY *** ones)
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To: Nebullis
Yeah, isn't it GREAT!??!

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

39 posted on 04/08/2003 9:29:15 AM PDT by In The Defense of Liberty (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: Question_Assumptions
And besides, he was quoting the SAS guy verbatim who wasn't using a formal tone.
40 posted on 04/08/2003 9:40:02 AM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: Indy Pendance
Thanks. I sent it around to my pinko friends who are apoplectic at the prospect of reporters actually sympathizing with the troops.
41 posted on 04/08/2003 9:41:03 AM PDT by big gray tabby
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To: Indy Pendance
Wow!! BIG bump! I love these embedded reporters who bring us the real picture!!1
42 posted on 04/08/2003 9:41:28 AM PDT by wise counsel
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To: Elsie
Good catch!
43 posted on 04/08/2003 10:29:37 AM PDT by Don W (Lead, follow, or get outta the way!)
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To: Elsie
I wasn't the one being picky about the spelling and grammar. My favorite, though, which I also missed, was using "vice" for "vise" in recent headlines.
44 posted on 04/08/2003 10:31:06 AM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Indy Pendance; ohioWfan; mtngrl@vrwc
Those who have spent time on the front lines with the coalition troops, whether embedded with individual units or traveling independently through liberated Iraq, have learned to love the military.

Bump one up for Rummy. Let me just say it again- the Bush administration is genius. GENIUS I TELL YOU!

45 posted on 04/08/2003 10:33:44 AM PDT by lawgirl (Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma)
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To: manna
There goes his career.
46 posted on 04/08/2003 10:35:43 AM PDT by LiberationIT
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To: Question_Assumptions
"alright ... remains in common use especially in journalistic and business publications."

Thank you for the correction. I will try to forget the memory of a school teacher several decades ago pointing to The Who's "The Kids are Alright" poster as containing an egregious error. ("After all, there's no such word as 'alwrong'" she said.)

I still hold the opinion that journalists should be the ones that resist a linguistic shoulching into slang and informal usages, instead providing a beacon of "correctness."
47 posted on 04/08/2003 11:16:00 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed ("Democracy, whiskey! And sexy!")
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To: Elsie
Can we say clique? I thought so............

I love proof readers. Thanks.

48 posted on 04/08/2003 12:18:31 PM PDT by aimhigh
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To: Beelzebubba
Amusingly, enough, back in the stone age when I was in grade school, there were THREE acceptable ways of spelling it:
alright
allright (one word)
all right (two words).

times change, but I surely wasn't taken aback by his spelling, but was rather pleased.
49 posted on 04/08/2003 12:58:44 PM PDT by fqued
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To: lawgirl
Absolutely, lawgirl........a brilliant move by Rummy......brilliant!

You can't continue to swallow the leftist lies about the military when you are confronted every day, moment by moment with the truth.

50 posted on 04/08/2003 12:58:51 PM PDT by ohioWfan (Saddam, you're going DOWN...........Sincerely, Eric)
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