http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/s ... 56,00.html
Tuesday May 20, 2003
The BBC producer who had his foot amputated after being caught in a landmine blast in Iraq has called on news organisations to continue using independent journalists in war zones despite the risks.
Stuart Hughes, who was injured in a series of explosions that claimed the life of BBC cameraman Kaveh Golestan, believes media organisations could be tempted to rely on correspondents embedded with the armed forces.
"This was a terrible war for journalists," he told MediaGuardian.co.uk.
"News organisations have realised how successful embedding has been - it's been a particularly good way for getting footage - but it would be a dangerous conclusion to rely solely on embedded reporters."
Hughes was one of a number of journalists to be injured during the conflict. Thirteen reporters, cameramen and other media workers lost their lives in Iraq.
He believes these deaths may be used as an excuse to push aside independent and freelance journalists in favour of the safer option of embedding, whereby journalists accompany troops.
"Embedding has definitely worked but its limits haven't been tested," Hughes said.
"We will always need people on the ground, independently forging ahead, finding the stories. It's too early to draw conclusions - the postmortems are still going on."
The issue of embedding has been hotly debated since the end of the Iraq war.
Proponents of the practice believe it offers journalists on the front line a greater degree of protection, while critics say it gives the military too much control over what is reported.
Hughes, who was working outside Kirkuk in northern Iraq at the time of his accident, accused the media of being blinkered to the dangers of reporting from war zones.
"Perhaps they've forgotten how dangerous these places can be. They will have to face up to the fact independent reporters could be injured or killed," he said.
"I wonder whether broadcasters have admitted to themselves that people will be hurt.
"When the army goes to war, it says some people won't be coming back. I think it's hard for news organisations to admit the same thing but it may be necessary in the long run."
Hughes pointed out that the sheer number of journalists covering the Iraq war meant casualties were almost inevitable.
"There were about 200 journalists in one hotel I stayed at in northern Iraq. When you've got that many people after one story, in a dangerous situation, there's always the chance somebody is going to get hurt."
Recovering in Cardiff, Hughes said he did not blame the war for his accident. Experts believe the minefield he entered could have dated back 20 years to the time of the Iran-Iraq conflict.
Hughes plans to return to the BBC in time to cover next year's European football championships in Portugal and has not ruled out covering other wars in the future.
"If somebody crashed their car on the way to work, you wouldn't ask them if they'd ever drive again," he said.
Fighting Words: An Iraq War Glossary (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0908910.html
) defines Embedded reporter as "A journalist traveling with troops and reporting from the battlefield. The 2003 Iraq war was the first time embeds were used. Pros: unprecedented media access to the front. Cons: lack of distance and independence between reporters and their protectors. A unilateral was a reporter unattached to a military unit."
The common use of the adjective embedded, according to Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Embedded&db=*
), is to be
1: enclosed firmly in a surrounding mass; "found pebbles embedded in the silt"; "stone containing many embedded fossils"; "peach and plum seeds embedded in a sweet edible pulp"
2: inserted as an integral part of a surrounding whole; "confused by the embedded Latin quotations"; "an embedded subordinate clause"
Gina Cavallaro, who's traveled to Iraq four times to report for the Army Times, has mixed feelings about embedding journalists. "The media is afraid ... and rightly so," she told The Hill. "They're relying more on the military to get them where they want to go, and as a result, the military is getting smarter about getting its own story told." But, she added, "I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing." Iraq War veteran Paul Rickhoff, who started Operation Truth "to tell the public the truth of the war from a soldier's perspective," feels that "embedding reporters actually limits the stories they can tell." If reporters don't "play along," he said, "next time they'll deny you access."
This article goes on to discuss;
1 Miltiary censorship
2 Issues arising due to embedding
3 Alternative interpretations
4 External links