Embedded journalist

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A US military assigned journalist takes photos of US soldiers in Pana, Afghanistan

Embedded journalist ( English embed "embed", "integrate") refers to a controlled and civil war correspondent who was assigned to a fighting military unit during the war. The term was coined at the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 by the armed forces of the United States .

The United States Army met with the practice of "embedded journalism" the pressure of American mass media to have access to the war events during the Second Gulf War in 1991 and the war in Afghanistan was not enough 2,001th This created a "basic set of rules for cooperation between the military and journalists". As the communication scientists Katharina Veit and Christian Schäfer-Hock show, there was already military-based journalism at the time of Alexander the Great.

The term is increasingly used outside of military contexts to characterize a journalist who adapts to the given political structures and expectations, i.e. allows himself to be made into the government's mouthpiece. The structure and functioning of political-media networks in which the journalist is “embedded” has been researched in more detail by Uwe Krüger , among others , and forms part of the modern form of media manipulation .

Conditions and risks

The US military required embedded journalists , also known as embeds , to complete special training for a while, which is similar to boot camp (short but intensive military training in the US ), before they were allowed into the combat zones. In addition, the reporters and their employers had to agree to a special catalog of rules , the so-called Ground Rules , which contained precise requirements.

During the fighting in the Iraq war in 2003, 16 of the 600 embedded journalists were killed, including the German Focus correspondent Christian Liebig . The number is astonishingly high, because of the approximately 300,000 Allied soldiers deployed, only 178 lost their lives during the fighting; the probability of death from the embeds was around 45 times greater.

Quality and censorship

Proponents of embedded journalism emphasize the immediate impressions that this form of journalism makes possible: "The potential of embedded journalism lies primarily in the direct human reporting of the troops themselves." This could increase the interest of target groups who are rather unrelated to politics in war reporting .

Noisy videos and transmissions using satellite technology were constant companions of the war effort. On the other hand, some embedded journalists have documented the war honestly and realistically, such as the photojournalist Lynsey Addario or the journalist Sebastian Junge in the award-winning documentary Restrepo .

One problem with embedded journalism is the close proximity between journalists and the people they report on. Journalist Markus Deggerich ( Spiegel Online ) reports in an interview that during the Iraq war he had the impression "that not all [journalists] manage to differentiate between their roles as journalists and as buddies". Independent and neutral reporting seems to be at least jeopardized by the proximity to the protagonists. Embedded journalism is therefore referred to by some observers as "PR for the military". Reference is also made to the issue of censorship.

Even if the concept is somewhat similar to that of the German propaganda companies (PK for short) in World War II , there is a difference: the PK reporter was a soldier tied to orders, while the embedded journalist is a civilian and at least formally independent. From the point of view of the media company, embedding represents an - economic - progress compared to the extremely unpopular pool principle . An advantage of embedding for journalists: It removes them from the obligation to share their material with colleagues, as is the case using the pool Principle has been necessary.

The term “Embedded Journalists” was voted 5th in the vote for Word of the Year 2003.


According to an article in the magazine Cicero (2014), " Embedded journalism , i.e. journalism by reporters assigned to a fighting military unit [...] is considered ethically sensitive." The quote from the former director of the West German Broadcasting Corporation Friedrich Nowottny comes from this context: “The journalist's gaze falls through the viewing slit of the tank. And it's not very big ”(2003). The press officer's task of ensuring that nothing happens that could be detrimental to the Bundeswehr's image, that no soldier gossips with the tasks of a journalist who, on the other hand, lurks for good quotes and pictures, collides. The RTL war reporter Antonia Rados during the Iraq war was “amazed that the censorship is not stricter, but it is a cat and mouse game every day” (2003).


  • Howard Tumber & Jerry Palmer: Media at war - The Iraq Crisis . Sage Publications, London 2008, ISBN 1-4129-0181-2 .
  • John Byrne Cooke: Reporting The War - Freedom of the Press from the American Revolution to the War on Terrorism . Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2007, ISBN 1-4039-7515-9 .
  • Rudolf Sponsel: The Embedded Syndrome. Or: the loss of objectivity through embedded journalism. A political-psychological analysis including attachment-theoretical phenomena. IP-GIPT, Erlangen ( online ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Katharina Veit, Christian Schäfer-Hock: Embedded Journalism. In: Deutscher Fachjournalisten-Verband (Ed.): Journalistic Genres. UVK-Verlag, Konstanz 2016, p. 155.
  2. ^ Katharina Veit, Christian Schäfer-Hock: Embedded Journalism. In: Deutscher Fachjournalisten-Verband (Ed.): Journalistic Genres. UVK-Verlag, Konstanz 2016, pp. 153–166.
  3. ^ Uwe Krüger: Opinion Power - Herbert von Halem Verlag. In: halem-verlag.de. November 24, 2015, accessed January 9, 2017 .
  4. Stefanie Tornow-Godoy: Construction of Truth: The manipulation of the US population through politics and the media. Hamburg 2012.
  5. ^ Katharina Veit, Christian Schäfer-Hock: Embedded Journalism. In: Deutscher Fachjournalisten-Verband (Ed.): Journalistic Genres. UVK-Verlag, Konstanz 2016, p. 159.
  6. Marc Pitzke: Afghanistan documentary Restrepo: The senseless mission of the Babyface killer. In: Spiegel Online . June 22, 2010. Retrieved January 9, 2017 .
  7. Journalist or buddy? Between live moments and reflection. In: bpb.de. April 24, 2003. Retrieved January 9, 2017 .
  8. ^ Christine Buth: Crisis Reporting: Embedded Journalists. In: planet-wissen.de. August 26, 2015, accessed January 9, 2017 .
  9. Marvin Oppong: - No documentary without the Bundeswehr , cicero.de of September 3, 2014