Military Review

When a journalist is stronger than a soldier

When a journalist is stronger than a soldier

The antiterrorist and peacekeeping operations of the 21st century sharply put in front of their organizers the need to provide broad support to the national and international community for the military-political actions of the countries-members of NATO and the United States. This support could only be provided by optimizing cooperation with the largest civilian media. In addition, the extensive involvement of leading media outlets in covering the activities of the armed forces (AF), especially in combat zones, is, according to US military experts, an important component of the information confrontation during armed conflicts.


US military experts still explain the reasons for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam by the extremely negative position of the national press. The US military fully comprehended the well-known truth that several angry journalists are worse than the army of angry soldiers. As a result, the existence of an “informational and psychological support for military operations” was considered expedient in the USA.

This idea was enshrined in the directives of the US Armed Forces. Success in armed conflicts "cannot be defined purely by the military concept of a battle won," says the US Army Field Regulations FM 33-5 "Psychological Operations." In other words, recognition of the final victory is possible only with public approval of the actions of its armed forces. Moreover, American journalists are sincerely convinced that "as long as CNN has not announced the victory of the American troops, there is no victory."

The formation of public opinion in the direction of approval and support of military actions of its own government was assigned to public relations specialists. “Speaking of the public,” explained Clifford Bernat, director of the US Department of Defense information service, “we mean both providing information to civilian media and informing the military itself through military publications.” We are striving, he assured, “to open the society as openly and promptly as possible about the activities of the army and try to do so in a high professional level.”

The main task of the Department of Public Relations of the United States Department of Defense is a targeted informational impact on civilian and military audiences inside and outside the country in order to create a positive attitude towards the US armed forces.

“We have 45 media outlets — newspapers, TV channels, radio, news agencies that are constantly accredited by the Pentagon, which we consider to be“ our ”journalistic corpus,” admitted Clifford Bernat. “Representatives of other mass media, and thousands of them, also have access to the Pentagon on certain days, but they are accompanied by our employees.”

The practice of informing national and international public during a military operation consists of organizing daily press conferences, briefings, preparing press releases and interviews with representatives of the command, as well as journalists visiting military units with providing vehicles and security guards to the media. As acknowledged by the leadership of the Public Relations Department of the United States Department of Defense, "by demonstrating its openness, the military leadership does not just easily make contact with the media - it opens the doors of its offices to them." The main role in the practical support of the activities of media representatives in the army is assigned to information bureaus (press centers). "Army leaders at all levels must be associated with the public," the FM 46-1 FM field guide states.

By the beginning of the war in Iraq, as part of working with foreign journalists, the central command of the US Armed Forces opened a new international press center in a military camp near the capital of Qatar, equipped with digital telephone and Internet lines, as well as satellite communications. Moreover, the interior of the conference room, equipped with huge plasma monitors, was made by a famous Hollywood designer. It was from the press center in Qatar that information was provided to combat operations in Iraq. Shihir Fahmy and Thomas Johnson, correspondents of the journalism and Mass Communication quarterly journalist, believe that the multi-level building of cooperation between the armed forces and civilian media was "a US response to the mistakes of the Vietnam War."

The United States has significantly increased the cost of funding for working with the media, including foreign ones, and the coordination of government and private media has been assigned to the Under-Secretary of State. For informational support of the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan, the United States and the United Kingdom deployed a coalition press center (“rapid response media center”) in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, which also included civilian media workers in addition to official military representatives. Thanks to the efficient and operational activities of the press center, the Western media managed to seize the initiative in covering Afghan events from the Middle Eastern media. The US Department of Defense has decided to create a rapid response information outreach group. The task of the new structure, which has already been called the “Pentagon Information Special Forces,” is to immediately (within 48 hours) arrive at the site of the proposed military operation to create a favorable ideological background in its media coverage.


Colonel Paul Brooke, Assistant Director for Media Operations, UK Department of Defense, noted the obvious tensions between the goals of the two complementary areas of activity - information support for combat operations and accurate and reliable information to the public through the media. “We value both media relations and media relations with the general public.” The Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom in the Green Book has set out in detail the procedure for interaction between the military department and the media during the period of military conflict. At the same time, in the introduction, the Ministry of Defense promised "to strive to ensure for the media the possibility of obtaining accurate, objective and timely information about the military presence of Great Britain."

The Director-General of the Department of Corporate Communications of the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom, Tony Pouson, openly stated that "the main goal of our strategy should be maximum openness to meet the practical needs of the media in terms of substance and timeliness." And although the “Media Plan” was “an integral part of the military’s general plan,” the government’s media strategy during the period of active operations in Iraq was worked out almost daily at inter-agency coordination meetings held under No. 10.

To attract well-known civilian media columnists of various political orientations to cooperation, a model of effective interaction between the armed forces and the so-called “implanted journalists”, as they soon became known, was developed. After the interview and special training, candidates selected for work received admission to the war zone, accredited with the information bureau and acquired the right to receive qualified explanations from the media relations officers about the events. At the same time, they gave written commitments to comply with certain rules restricting their activities. “The only limitation,” the Air Force TV team reported, “was that we could not reveal our exact location or details of future missions.”


A special "type of journalistic appeal" was called by Air Force correspondent Gavin Hewitt "Pentagon plans to integrate journalists into their military machine." The road to Baghdad for "implanted journalists" ran through the Quantic - training base of the US Marine Corps. The “front line of training” was filled with classroom exercises with field maps, contour lines, and military nets. “We learned all about cotton underwear and wet wipes. Women were taught how to urinate in ditches, ”the journalist recalled. Colonel Jay de Frank from the Pentagon clarified the situation by wanting to avoid all kinds of misunderstandings, explaining to the wards that "they will not only shoot at the front, but also be at the same risk as soldiers."

Well-known journalists were integrated into the units involved in combat operations. A total of 662 journalists were attached to the US Army and 95 to the British Armed Forces. Each of the largest American TV channels ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox was represented in the 26 troops by journalists. Solid print publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Time, Newsweek, and others were given the opportunity to send journalists to 10 troops. Together with the advancing units, the most famous American reporters, Oliver North, Wolf Blitzer, Scott Pelee, Ted Connell, were on the front line.

British journalist Richard Butler was one of the "implanted journalists" in the war in Iraq.

However, there were unexpected problems. For example, the Ministry of Defense suddenly refused to include British journalist Audrey Gillan from The Guardian as “implanted”. Marines flatly "refused to deal with women." And this is “after several months of hard training.” And only after the "quiet" private calls, Gillan was "built in" into the regiment of the Palace cavalry - one of the oldest regiments in Great Britain. Later, the regimental commander told the journalist that he had to inform him about the incident “the queen herself, who expressed surprise at the attachment of the woman to her personal regiment”.

For the sake of justice, it should be noted that the reports and essays on the soldiers of the coalition forces prepared by the “implanted journalists” were sincere and humane. The same Gillan recognizes that concern for her personal safety has become a matter of honor for many servicemen. "They shared with me homemade sweets, toilet paper, news, secrets, tears. The driver of the Spartan 3 car that became her home was Corporal Craig tried not to refuse her anything. The journalist was impressed by the case when, during an alarm, “one of the soldiers handed me my gas mask before taking his own: when you have only nine seconds to safely put on your mask, it is not at all easy to do.”

Representatives of the Allied forces command at numerous briefings and press conferences positively assessed the activities of civilian media journalists who “fruitfully” interact with combat units. Jonathan Marcus reported from Doha about his understanding of the reasons for the approval by the military of the “implantation” idea and their full satisfaction with the results of its implementation: events developed favorably for the coalition troops, and journalists sent victory reports from their military units to their editorial offices, objectively shaping and promoting media by means of a positive image of the alliance troops in the eyes of the world community. The “real test” of the “implanted journalism” model, according to Marcus, would be a different course of the war. "If something went completely differently, perhaps in the Pentagon and in Whitehall the charm of this system diminished noticeably."

Many journalists suffered from a lack of information and expressed dissatisfaction with the activities of the army press centers. BBC correspondent Peter Hunt complained on the air: "We are waiting here, in this faceless hangar in Qatar, of news about current operations." His colleague Paul Adams called the cramped room in which the briefings were held, “inadequate working space.” Journalists were particularly outraged by the briefings of the imperturbable brigadier general Vince Brooks. After them, American journalists "tore their hair because of a lack of information."

The practice of “implanted journalism” developed gradually, uneasy and gained both supporters and opponents. Back in the years of the Second World War, the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and other military conflicts, this method was used to send photojournalists to the combat zone. American reporters, including writer Ernest Hemingway, cartoonist Bill Moyldin, photographer Robert Kapa, ​​journalist Ernie Pyle and many others, dressed in military uniforms with emblems of the US Armed Forces, made an obligatory patch “War Correspondent” and personally embroidered names and titles, and worked with military units. " During the Gulf War, the US military made major improvements to this method and used what they called the “pool system” when “accredited journalists were shipped to theaters and used in strictly controlled situations”.

Incompatible goals

The term “embedded” became the most fashionable and most widely used media term in 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq. The government created and implemented a system that was aimed at optimizing military-news cooperation. According to journalists, it was as if the tight reins on the coverage of the Gulf War were drastically weakened. Philip Knightley, a former correspondent for The Sunday Times, and then a free and independent journalist, is convinced that the term “introduction” is used in “smart PR games to hide censorship.” The first war correspondent, “inculcated in British troops,” Knightley considered William Howard Russell, who for two years (until the spring of 1854) sent twice a week naval mail to truthful reports on the events of the Crimean War, which earned the author the respect of the British public and played an important role in reorganization and modernization of the army.

According to Knightley, the level of "media access to war zones varied from war to war." But the main conclusion reached by Knightley, who covered military conflicts for more than 30 for years, is “incompatible goals of the military and the media.” The relative security provided by the military to “implanted journalists” implied the latter’s refusal from certain obligations to its readers.

The famous photo reporter, former sergeant of the 3 th battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, Frank Hudek, who was famous for his photo reports from the jungles of Northern Burma (Myanmar), Kosovo (Operation Quadrant), Golan Heights (Operation Danac), Egypt (Operation Calumet) ), the Persian Gulf region (Operation Apollo), from Afghanistan and Port-au-Prince, believes that "a good journalist will be able to get to the bottom of the truth, regardless of any organizational limitations." An example of this is the “implanted journalist” Ron Haviv, who became a photo witness of the war in Serbia and “secretly captured dramatic images of war”.

The process of implanting civilian journalists into the fighting units of the coalition forces of NATO member countries other than the United States and Great Britain has embraced other countries. A spokesman for the Canadian Forces Expeditionary Command (CEFCOM), Major Doug McNair, named the 15 names of the deployed reporters for eight of the largest Canadian media outlets, including CTV, CBC, CP, CanWest, Global, The Globe and Mail and others. Columnist Graeme Smith suggests that “Canadian media stalls are filled to capacity because Canadian“ implantation ”programs have a good reputation among my colleagues in foreign media.” Other sources point to the popularity of the Canadian program among Canadian and international media structures. Lisa Paul in Ryerson Review of Journalism is crediting the Canadian Armed Forces with “creating an implantation program with fewer restrictions for journalists than similar programs in other countries.” The program of the Canadian Armed Forces, confirmed by Major McNair, “allows embedded reporters to leave the base at any time in order to gather material for their reports and to go back.” In southern Afghanistan, Graham Smith met with representatives of the Taliban movement and returned safely to base. The Canadian military does not see this as a problem, since "the Taliban do not take him (Smith) hostage and do not place a bomb in his backpack."


Not every “implanted journalist” was willing to risk his life. Former Toronto Star journalist Kathleen Kenna was seriously injured while working in Afghanistan with a grenade thrown at her car. Nevertheless, her newspaper colleague, reporter Mitch Potter, considers it useful to supplement the information obtained at the briefings with facts of real life. “I was shot from AK-47 and RPGs,” says Graeme Smith, “armed men in masks burst through the door of my office in Kandahar, but everyone makes their own decisions, and I spend my days away from the military base, because it only allows I find the true information. "

Journalists composing their reports in the comfortable and safe conditions of the military base “use the service and clean sheets”, but are deprived of the opportunity to tell the readers the truth about the war. "I was keenly aware that I was not where I was doing история"- One of the BBC reporters shared his bitter thoughts. Gavin Hewitt’s words that “the Pentagon from the very beginning promised freedom of information transfer and kept its word” sounded like discordant words. A little later, he explained: “As a journalist, I had the freedom to report exactly what I wanted.”

War correspondent Ryan Dilley admitted that he feels like a bit of a fraud: "While other so-called" implanted "witnessed the fighting and received first-hand information, I visited the battlefield only after the shooting stopped." Mitch Potter called this practice "journalism lobotomy." Bill Roggio, editor-in-chief of The Long War Journal magazine, known for his truthful reports from the western part of Iraq, who was “implanted” into the US Navy 2 division, spoke out more carefully. On the one hand, “with all my heart supporting the introduction,” he admits: “If you want to tell the truth about what the Afghans really think about the war, then the military base is not the best place to do it.”

Independent journalists, collecting social and economic information about the situation of ordinary people at their own risk and risk and deeply convinced that it is impossible for the public to provide an accurate and complete picture of the war to the public, by their colleagues in the military . Extraordinarily brave people, such as Gate Abdul-Ahad, Terry Lloyd, Nir Rosen and others who managed to “break free from the military’s tenacious embrace” contributed to the creation of a true picture of war. Freelancer Adnan Khan, a representative of a glorious cohort of independent journalists who has worked in Afghanistan for a long time and published his reports in such famous magazines as Maclean's and The Walrus, considers implantation to be one of the reasons for reporting on the war more difficult. Journalists are perceived by local residents as “tools of invaders” or even spies ... “There is nothing worse than being a spy in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the process of“ implanting ”only serves to reinforce this impression.”

The head of The Associated Press in Pakistan, Kathy Gannon, fully shares Han's concerns. She "personally saw the suspicion of local residents." Gannon believes that the “implantation” program is eroding the role of journalists in the minds of local people in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. This program has made the reporter profession "more difficult and dangerous for journalists." The model of "implanted journalism" was created to ensure the safety of journalists in the zone of armed conflict. But it also breeds the distrust of the local population towards journalists, turning them into “targets for violence”. At the same time, the media lose the opportunity to receive truthful information. The circle is closed.
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  1. SRC P-15
    SRC P-15 April 5 2014 08: 46
    We cannot be defeated:
  2. FC SKIF
    FC SKIF April 5 2014 08: 53
    Once I read with pleasure the newspaper * Top Secret *. Then there was the 08.08.08 war. and the photo on the front page of this newspaper of a sobbing Georgian woman because of * Russian occupiers *. Also, between the two Chechen wars, a song about Basaev was played on radio as much as possible. Although I listened to similar things then, I no longer switched to this radio. What I wish to all fans of CNS and the BBC.
  3. bear
    bear April 5 2014 09: 14
    Most media in the world have one big mess. Unfortunately, in Russia there are more and more such media outlets.
    1. radio operator
      radio operator April 5 2014 09: 44
      Quote: bear
      Most media in the world have one big mess. Unfortunately, in Russia there are more and more such media outlets.

    2. Lelek
      Lelek April 6 2014 00: 38
      Right. Well, something like this.
    3. baltika 3
      baltika 3 April 6 2014 21: 03
      I completely agree how disgusting it was to watch a story about not badly Broken roads in the Crimea, what a disaster, and let's go out to our streets, our cities, we take the asphalt together with us, let's take a look at how we live in which conditions, otherwise it feels like we have been holding the god of eggs for a long time, but otherwise the Red Army is stronger than all
  4. sv68
    sv68 April 5 2014 10: 07
    along the way, give toilet paper to the undercover journalist — he will write such tales about you — andersen will envy. Indeed, there are indeed two of the best selling professions in the world — journalists and prostitutes. By the way, the cave tiger for some reason did not give an interview to the very first journalist, but shook the miserable wassat
  5. Standard Oil
    Standard Oil April 5 2014 10: 50
    Ever since the days of Vietnam, news coverage of wars has played an increasingly large role, and people want to know where their money goes and where their kids are sent. In Vietnam, the Americans failed both tasks. They saw the whole pointlessness of giant financial injections into South Vietnam, the pointlessness expensive carpet bombing, and tired of getting funerals. But why I love the Americans, that they know how to learn from their mistakes, unlike ... it is clear who. The Americans solved the funeral problem by abolishing the regular army and creating an army of mercenaries in the service of the state + PMCs, The mercenaries do not care about morality and decency, they do what they say, they do not ask questions. Well, all other problems are removed by the army of the deceitful and corrupt system of Western media, which are so successful in the art of hanging noodles on their ears that many people now sincerely believe this. over and over again steps on both of these rakes, the regular army is good when there is an ideology and people know what to fight for, and since 91, the Russian army has He is like a Mr. in a hole, but if the enemy attacks the Motherland, then everything is clear, but what about the "Colonial Wars"? The Soviet army partially solved this problem, it brought freedom to the oppressed workers and peasants, the current Russian army is still in the same hole. Well, you don't even need to say anything about the media, everyone knows everyone here.
    1. GRAY
      GRAY April 5 2014 12: 21
      What about protecting your people and collecting Russian lands?
      1. Standard Oil
        Standard Oil April 5 2014 13: 05
        Quote: GRAY
        What about protecting your people and collecting Russian lands?

        So I say, while the actions are taking place within the framework of the former USSR, everything is more or less clear, and then what? The Americans carry the "values ​​of democracy", and what is Russia? Nothing, in Russia there is no patriotic education and the media, so any Western propaganda lies on fertile ground and does not meet any ideological rebuff. Russia is already associated in the world as total theft and corruption, and Russia is silent in response, which means that it indirectly agrees with such an image.
        1. GRAY
          GRAY April 5 2014 13: 52
          Further we do not need nafig, we have ours full. And about "democratic values" - you cannot give to others what you do not have yourself.
          1. Standard Oil
            Standard Oil April 5 2014 14: 21
            So the fact of the matter is how they submit it via TV, their army of corrupt scribes and PR managers and Hitler will whitewash if necessary, and we have nothing to oppose in this regard.
  6. xan
    xan April 5 2014 13: 20
    If memory serves, American President Nixon once said: “If I were asked to choose whether to spend a billion on the war or on the press, I would choose the press - the cannons are still not clear whether they will be able to fire at least once in their entire existence. ; meanwhile, the press is constantly shooting at the enemy 24 hours a day. "
  7. infinite silence ...
    infinite silence ... April 5 2014 13: 20
    several angry journalists are worse than an army of angry soldiers.

    So it was, it is and it will be so. It was Vietnam that enshrined this idea in the policy documents of the US Armed Forces. Which is still successfully used.
    Remember. The appearance of Schuster in Ukraine, marked the orange revolution for us. Then - Nyem.
    Bastards. But. Bastards highly professional!
  8. Turkir
    Turkir April 5 2014 17: 59
    The article addresses an important topic.
    Everyone noticed that the entire US and European press, on orders from Washington, wrote very well, they were acting as ONE team. Public opinion is being formed. Such "embedded" journalists work not only on the fronts. And those who work at the front. shape public opinion, thanks to the multitude of openly falsified photographs, as in Lithuania.
  9. Oleg 1970
    Oleg 1970 April 5 2014 22: 47
    10000 minuses to me, I'm ready to sell this fifth column bothered honestly. the house burned down and I just can’t make out the land. HOUSE (. BUYED A HOUSE. IT IS NOT LEGALLY BUILT IN 1970).
    1. aud13
      aud13 April 6 2014 13: 29
      I’ll just ask you without cons ..
      And if you are in America or build something illegally, then what do you think will happen to you?
      Why blame your negligence and your mistakes on others?
      If you did something illegally, because it was apparently cheaper, then now you should correct this mistake.
  10. aud13
    aud13 April 6 2014 13: 25
    The day before yesterday I was driving in my car listening to "Business Radio", so there, about the closure of McDonald's in Crimea, allegedly some girl was asked her opinion on this matter and she replies like:
    - I immediately noticed how deserted immediately became and sad;
    Damn, from such journalists just sick. For example, most residents of our city of Yekaterinburg do not give a damn about the absence of McDonald's in the city. There are enough other more healthy and tasty establishments.
    In general, our leadership should be very attentive to this topic. It seems to me that the "Srashniki" opened an information war against us. If you look at the headlines of the articles in the morning, you get the feeling that soon a real war starts because of the sanctions. You start to look more closely, then you realize that all the steam is "going to beep".
    We need to answer, not only in Russia, but also in other countries.
    And it is necessary to do it smartly. By the way, I would advise our leadership to shoot several films about financial and other disasters in America in the West, at the hands of Western directors and actors, so that, on a subconscious level, people are afraid to invest in American currency, bonds and other pieces of paper.