Accessibility links

Breaking News

BACKGROUND REPORT – April 8, 2003: Media Coverage of Iraq War - 2003-04-07

This is a VOA Special English Background Report.

As in other wars, there have been journalists killed along with soldiers and civilians in Iraq. This war, though, marks a test of a new American military program to place reporters with troops. They are called embedded. There are hundreds of journalists traveling with American and British troops in Iraq.

The United States military says it does not influence the work of embedded journalists. But there are rules designed to prevent compromises in the security and battle plans of coalition forces.

Some people say it is not possible for embedded reporters to be neutral and fair. Journalists say they do the best they can. Many independent journalists are also covering the war.

Some critics around the world argue that American media coverage has been cleansed of the real violence of the war. They say American news organizations, especially television broadcasters, are not willing to show the dead and wounded.

At the same time, there was also criticism when Iraqi television showed dead Americans and prisoners. The United States accused Iraq of violating international rules of war. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television was also criticized when it broadcast the same images around the world.

Even some American news reports have angered top officials of the Defense Department. Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers denounced comments reportedly made by field commanders. The commanders were reported as saying there were not enough forces and supplies in Iraq. They were said to have criticized the war plan as well. Some retired generals now advising American television news shows have made similar criticisms.

General Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the criticisms were wrong and harmful to American troops in Iraq. The general also criticized the media for reporting dissent without naming the dissenters. Secretary Rumsfeld said all top American commanders had approved the war plan. And, he said they had all they needed to carry it out.