Embedded journalism, war correspondence and PR farce.

I was invited to present a paper on embedded journalism to the Pacific Media Centre conference noted below in a previous post. Not being a journalist, if offered me an opportunity to reflect on the evolution of war correspondence in the post-Viet Nam era, especially since I had witnessed some trial runs of the “embed” concept while working in the Pentagon in the 1990s and could therefore speak to the history behind the current practice, as well some of the dilemmas it now poses for the US military.

The nice folk at Media 7 decided that the subject was worth covering in a show, especially since my talk at the conference was paired up with a presentation by independent journalist Jon Stephenson on how the conflict in Afghanistan is being spun for NZ audiences, with particular reference to the use of columnist Garth George as a PR flak for the NZDF.

This week on Media 7 Jon, Garth and I were invited to discuss with host Russell Brown the subjects of embedded journalism and journalistic integrity in war. In the first segment Russell and I briefly discuss the subject of embedded journalism (as much as you can when trying to provide a synopsis of a 6000 word essay–the essay is available via the PMC by writing Andrea or David at the addresses listed as contacts on the poster). In the second segment Jon and Garth offer their very differing opinions about journalistic integrity in the coverage of the NZDF mission in Afghanistan. The difference in their views is eye-opening but let us be clear about who is who: Jon is a bonafide war correspondent who works independently of military protection in some very dangerous conflict zones; Garth is a stay-at-home columnist with a sinecure (that word again!).

On a very different note, the show ends with a nice skewering of romance novel prose done impeccably by Sarah Daniell (starring herself as the heroine/narrator/interviewer). It is quite funny. Look for the Tony Blair quote.

You can find the show here.

3 thoughts on “Embedded journalism, war correspondence and PR farce.

  1. That thing between Jon and Garth is truly one of the most glorious bits of media farce to ever grace a NZ screen. ‘Who cares?’ Indeed.


  2. I now know that it is possible for someone to become a parody of himself while sober (and no, it is not me). A legend in all the wrong ways.

    There were a bunch of young journalism/communications students in the audience so the contrast in approaches between Jon and Garth should be an early warning to them of (some of) the ethical dilemmas of the profession. Having integrity apparently is not enough to get a steady by-line in NZ, whereas in at least one major NZ outlet, the reverse appears to be true.

  3. I almost began to feel sorry for Garth then, despite myself. Even the bad literary sex that followed was less embarassing.

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