Embedded journalists can still pack a punch

The pictures that emerged from Fallujah on Monday, of the apparent execution of an unarmed Iraqi insurgent by a US Marine, are evidence of the power of embedded journalism.

The pictures came from a team from US television network NBC, embedded with the Marine Corps during the fight for the city, who pooled the footage.

It is now the centre of an investigation into war crimes.

It serves to redress in some small degree the imbalance in the reporting of the battle for the Iraq city that’s pointed out by Channel 4’s Alex Thomson on page 20.

How, he asks, can we prevent the one-sided reporting of a one-sided battle becoming accepted as the norm when there is no access to any of the “opposition” forces? How can we do justice to the full story when we don’t know what they’re thinking, or even who they are? Thomson’s hope is that the “men in the masks” from the likes of Al Quaeda begin to embed journalists of their own, probably from the Arab media.

It’s hard to disagree, even if it does raise the uncomfortable prospect of one set of embedded journalists looking on as their guardians attempt to blow away their counterparts, or even colleagues, embedded on the other side.

But even that has to be better than the imbalanced “dire mess” we’re in at the moment.

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