Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bloggers: Please Come to Iraq

WaPo reports the military admits to becoming "increasingly aggressive" in its attempts to control information on the Iraq war. To that end the military has embedded bloggers and is distributing news releases to military bloggers. One example......
Retired soldier Bill Roggio was a computer technician living in New Jersey less than two months ago when a Marine officer half a world away made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Frustrated by the coverage they were receiving from the news media, the Marines invited Roggio, 35, who writes a popular Web log about the military called "The Fourth Rail" ( ), to come cover the war from the front lines.
After military officials in Baghdad said Roggio could not be issued media credentials unless he was affiliated with an organization, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning research organization in Washington, offered him an affiliation, according to an entry on Roggio's blog.

Along with paying to plant stories this is another example of the military's attempt to subvert the press. As a Marine public affairs officer is quoted as saying, with a blogger, they don't have to "worry about some editor back in the States altering what he wrote before it got published." I wonder how the Pentagon would react if the Washington Post were to go around part of the military command structure such as public affairs or a better analogy yet, CentCom, as its not to be trusted. I don't think that would fly yet the military has no qualms in doing such.

Embedding of journalists in itself can be problematic to say nothing of embedding bloggers. A case can be made that some embedded journalist's objectivity was challenged during the Iraq war. (If you doubt that watch this quick video montage as a reminder) I'm sure more than a few journalists look back on that period with some embarrassment and wish a good editor had stepped in to say take it down a notch. Embeds also get a limited scope of the war and security is such in Iraq that even if not embedded, journalists have very limited freedom of movement in Iraq. But embedding bloggers is even more problematic. Roggio for example clearly came to his assignment with an agenda which fit perfectly with the military's agenda.

I'll cut to the chase. Blogging isn't journalism. I am not a journalist. Though I have many problems with journalism today in America I certainly do not advocate substituting the function of the press with blogging and certainly not propaganda blogging brought to you by the military and the American Enterprise Institute. Now that the War on Christmas is over I hope the media will report as vigorously, on a real war ongoing in America, as they did on that phony war and that is the War on the Press.

UPDATE: From the US theater of the War on the Press....
Last week we learned Bush met with editors of the NYT to kill a story. Today Howard Kurtz reports that The Washington Post was also summoned to the White House over Dana Priest's story on the secret CIA prisons. The Post's editor would not confirm ....

But the meetings were confirmed by sources who have been briefed on them but are not authorized to comment because both sides had agreed to keep the sessions off the record. The White House had no comment.

I said I'm not a journalist but if I were this would be a story on the front page of my paper.

UPDATE: Editor & Publisher has a good story on embedded reporters.....SPECIAL REPORT: Original 'Embeds,' Three Years On, Discuss Iraq War Coverage, Then and Now

No comments: