Journalists embedded in Iraq need to dig below surface, ask tougher questions, says military historian

Thursday, February 2, 2006

This week's attack that injured ABC News co-anchor Bob Woodruff and a cameraman in Iraq show the continued danger in the region. But journalists generally don't tell the full story, according to Geoffrey Wawro, director for the Center for the Study of Military History at the University of North Texas.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 61 journalists have been killed since March 2003 in Iraq as a result of hostilities. That compares to 66 journalists killed in Vietnam between 1955 and 1975. Wawro says the reporters embedding with the troops know what the dangers are.

"You have to give them credit for embedding with an Iraqi military unit. Embedded journalists are essential to the coverage of the war, but the coverage doesn't go far enough," he says.

Wawro says that while it may be true that things in Iraq may be better that news reports indicate, the stories that are told are simplistically and don' t ask the hard questions.

"The media needs to (look at) the war as a military and strategic event, rather than just the emotional vignettes that dominate the coverage," Wawro says. "On the one hand, the reporters are covering the war, reporting on the things they see and do. But on the other hand, they are trying to make their own career. They are concerned about their marketability, and hesitate to make any strategic judgment about what they are seeing."

Wawro joined UNT's Center for the Study of Military History in the fall of 2005. Previously, he was the professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Wawro is also host and anchor of the History Channel and History International programs "Global View," "Hardcover History," "Hard Target," "History's Business," and "History versus Hollywood."

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