June 26, 2006:
One of the more interesting types of stories exchanged by Iraq veterans is how their embedded reporters get screwed by their editors. The basic problem is that reporters tend to get close to the troops they are embedded with, and the troops form a good sense of what kind of story is being written. But then, when the story appears, it often has no connection with what actually happened, other than the names of the reporter and the soldiers or marines. The troops get curious about how this can be. Reporters have learned to dread inquiring emails from the troops they were recently embedded with. Sometimes the reporters are still embedded when some of their reporting appears in print or on the air. The troops note the discrepancies and ask questions. The answer to all these queries is simple. The reality of Iraq is too positive for the editors back home. Good news doesn't sell. The reporting has to be darkened a bit and a negative spin added. The troops tend to shrug their shoulders, and shake their heads. There's always the "alternative media" (blogs and web based stuff in general), and occasional accurate reporting in some mainstream outlets. But, in general, it's as if there were two worlds; the real one the troops live in, and a more "media friendly" one created by editors back home.