I’ve long lamented the poor state of reporting on the war in Iraq. While our military systematically roots out terrorists, our mainstream media reports only on the latest atrocities committed by the enemy. As Iraq has quieted, and terrorist atrocities have become less frequent, Iraq has begun to fade out of the media. Without the Internet, it would be awfully hard to learn what’s actually happening.
Given the leanings of the media, this is not surprising, but I learned today something that did surprise me: While reporting in Baghdad is expensive, embedding is free! Paul McLeary writes in the Columbia Journalism Review:
Five years into the war, news organizations have understandably cut back a bit, given the immense cost of maintaining a Baghdad bureau. From life insurance for reporters to guards, armored cars (which not all bureaus have), and fortified houses outside of the Green Zone, reporting from Iraq is an incredibly expensive proposition.
But embedding with infantry units is free. Flights to Kuwait, where the Army public affairs team picks you up and puts you on a military aircraft to Iraq, and insurance still cost, but once you’re embedded, your expenses end. And that’s why I can’t understand why every major news organization doesn’t have one reporter embedded with a combat unit at all times.
(Via the Corner.)
So, hardly any major news organizations have embedded reporters any more, despite the fact that embedding is nearly free. (At least, if they do have them, we never hear from them.) This is surprising at first blush, but unlike McLeary, I can imagine a reason why not: perhaps the media simply doesn’t want to report on the troops.