Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2003


News coverage of warfare poses a dilemma for social systems with a free press, such as the United States. In an era of high-tech weaponry and nearly instantaneous global communications, conflict is inevitable between the obligation of the press to inform the general public and the obligation of the military to successfully conduct war. The importance of secrecy to the conduct of warfare heightens the issue in the current counterterrorism operations. The competitive advantage of live coverage raises the stakes in a crowded media market. The military’s control over newsgathering during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War set off a controversy still smoldering during the Haiti crisis of 1994, and revived by Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001-02. The practice of “embedding” journalists in combat units, adopted in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, is a balancing of the opposing interests of the military and the press. This paper examines the historical, legal, and institutional dimensions of this issue


This article first appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of The American Communication Journal, and is reprinted with permission. © 2002 American Communication Journal.

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