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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Embedded War Photography
Scott Schild, Photographer
Potsdam | NY | United States | Posted: 10:01 AM on 07.18.08
->> The US military is placing concerning restrictions on war photographers, including dismissing photographer Zoriah, http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/newswire/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=10...

Where are the limits between security and photojournalism?
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Daniel Bates, Photographer
Fort Bragg | NC | United States | Posted: 10:29 AM on 07.18.08
->> The Army is not in the photojournalism business. Of course they want embedded photographers to show the 'bright side' of the war - and speaking as a soldier, I'd probably not be too keen on a civilian photographer taking pictures of dead soldiers at the scene of the blast.

Of course, as a photographer, I understand the need to document the situation. But military commanders and average troops don't think like we (photographers) do.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 10:45 AM on 07.18.08
->> The short-sightedness of this type of action amazes me. It is a brutal conflict. If you're a military leader or the White House, wouldn't you want to show the full brutality of the enemy?

Showing the true face of war would gain more support from the public than the one-line summary: "8 soldiers were killed last Tuesday in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq."

With censorship logically comes suspicion: "What don't they want us to see?" It puts the troops in the awkward position of not being able to be open about their experiences - and having to defend their actions.
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Corey Perrine, Photographer
Hudson | NH | USA | Posted: 10:54 AM on 07.18.08
->> I only found one death photo on the front page of the blog...

http://zoriah.net/

"Where are the limits between security and photojournalism?"

Each situation is different. In this case I am assuming this was a pretty horrific battle that needed to be told. That's where two different views come into play. On one hand, the commanding officer thought, "This was so horrific, this should never be seen by anyone." On the other hand Zoriah probably thought, "This is so horrific, this should be seen by all."
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Michael Moriatis, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 1:06 PM on 07.18.08
->> I think that anyone who is miffed that the military has restrictions on embedded photographers is a little naive.
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Sean D. Elliot, Photographer, Photo Editor
Norwich | CT | USA | Posted: 2:17 PM on 07.18.08
->> naive to be surprised that the Marines booted him, yup. Justified to be outraged that the military forces of a democratic state can't uphold those ideals, sure.

The Marines are splitting hairs over his embed agreement to boot him. If someone in the Marines approved his blog post based on those terms, it certainly is not fair to change the rules just because someone higher-up didn't like the photos. But what recourse is there? It's their show, if you go embedded, then you accept that they're in charge even if they change the rules.
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Kolman Rosenberg, Photographer
Mentor | OH | USA | Posted: 3:47 PM on 07.18.08
->> ...and then the gov't wonders why the American public puts this war in the back of their minds and military families are upset that the rest of the nation just doesn't seem to care.

They don't let us see it!
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Jeff Martin, Photographer
wellington | OH | usa | Posted: 5:17 PM on 07.18.08
->> Mr Miller is free to cover what ever he likes. He doesn't have a 'right' to the embedded position. The Marines are an arm of the US Gov. The administrations position is that we should be in Iraq. Why would anyone expect them to help get out any news that would be at odds with that position. I don't think they should interfere with news gathering ( yes, I know that they do), but I don't see where Miller's embedded position is necessary to covering a somewhat urban conflict.
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Jeffrey Haderthauer, Photographer
Wichita Falls | TX | USA | Posted: 5:40 PM on 07.18.08
->> Thats the problem. Either you are embedded and run the risk of being run off if they don't like what you shoot, or you aren't embedded and every day you run the risk of the military turning you into another Mazan Dana.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 6:28 PM on 07.18.08
->> Jeff,

I'm as cynical as the next person -- perhaps more than most -- but the U.S. government works for the people of the United States. They are responsible -- at every level -- for upholding the Constitution, which is the basic law of the land.

The American People have the right to know what their government is doing in their name. Although it's understandable that the government -- which consists of human beings, with all of our inherent flaws -- would want to show only the things that show their decisions in a positive light, they are responsible to allow access to the citizenry, through the news media, to the unexpurgated facts.

In other words, they aren't allowed to pick and choose among journalists.

--Mark
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 8:32 PM on 07.18.08
->> as someone who has been embedded several times in iraq and afghanistan I agree with what you folks are saying but one thing you must understand....for the most part you just have to be firm and walk a fine line. they do have some pretty silly rules but for the most part most of them can be eased around. but jeff, I really disagree with you, we all know the real reason the media was allowed to be embedded in the first place...it was a total propaganda attempt by the bush administration because they figured we were going to find WMD's, kick some ass and be out of there in two months......surprise! five years and counting with no end in sight. journalists DO have a right to be embedded. not be stupid or put the troops in danger (like that turd geraldo did) but those are OUR billions (not millions) of tax dollars being used to fund this conflict. so yeah, we all are paying the freight and should know what kind of weight we're hauling.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 8:52 PM on 07.18.08
->> The first casualty of war is the truth.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 10:01 AM on 07.21.08
->> Some truth leaking out about the Korean War, all so many years later.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/21/asia/incheon.php

So perhaps 58 years later we'll learn stuff about Iraq, too.
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Randy Janoski, Photographer
Washington DC & Nashville | TN | USA | Posted: 8:37 AM on 07.24.08
->> Chuck why do you think "journalists DO have a right to be embedded"? I mean where do they get that right? No branch of the military has to provide safety and security or access for any journalist. I started my career as a combat photographer in Vietnam and after that went into way too many war zones than I care to remember.

Sure journalists can go into war zones and they can go in on their own and be supported (and pick up the entire tab) by whatever agency, paper or media outlet that wants to send them, no one is stopping that. And it actually should be done that way then there would be far less skepticism on what they send home and the military wouldn't have to be worried or concerned about their candy ass.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 9:07 AM on 07.24.08
->> I have never met a journalist with a candy ass.

Shouldn't American Service Personnel be worried about serving ALL Americans? Why should journalist be excluded from their worries?

After all our military works for us, not the other way around.

If we worked for the military, this country would be a military dictatorship, not a democracy.
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Randy Janoski, Photographer
Washington DC & Nashville | TN | USA | Posted: 9:27 AM on 07.24.08
->> "I have never met a journalist with a candy ass."
I've met too many.

"Shouldn't American Service Personnel be worried about serving ALL Americans?"
No, they serve our country, not individuals in specific circumstances.

"After all our military works for us, not the other way around."
Again wrong, they do not work for you, or me, or "us" they serve our country.

I respect your opinion, I do not agree with it.
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Steve Ueckert, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 9:53 AM on 07.24.08
->> Walter--

Rather than hit "Huh?" I will attempt to elaborate my thoughts.

I have met plenty of journalists with candy asses. Have you ever been around a local broadcast crew and experienced a prima donna TV reporter? Or perhaps a newspaper reporter who does 99% of their job over the phone and on the one rare occasion when the city editor tells them to get out of the office and collect some local color for a story, you've had the misfortune to also be assigned to the same story? It's enough to make you carry a "No Whiners" sign on your Domke bag.

There are plenty of candy ass reporters and probably a couple of photogs as well.

American Service men and women put themselves in harms way to protect American citizens in America, not specifically to protect American citizens abroad, especially those who have chosen to put themselves in harms way. This I say to draw a distinction between journalists who happen to be American citizens in a war zone, there by choice usually, and Americans who end up in a war zone, not by choice. Such would be the American med students in Granada during the Reagan presidency.

A journalist in a war zone is viewed by the military as not just someone who might contradict the official military report, but also as someone not in US military uniform that has to be discerned as friend or foe in a firefight, a decision that takes time and sometimes that time is the difference between life and death for the combatant.

Despite all the access that journalists had in the Vietnam Conflict, I don't recall any that were imbedded with any specific units. Journalists obtained a military ID card and were then afforded a relatively free access, including helo rides to where ever. That is, until the invasion of Laos that Nixon didn't want reported. But that is another story.

So, I don't view the imbedded journalist as a god-given right, a constitutionally guaranteed right or any right at all. Merely an accomodation afforded by the military that had specific restrictions and could be terminated at their choosing. Which it seems was done in the case of Zoriah Miller.

--Steve
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Bob Ford, Photographer
Lehighton | Pa | USA | Posted: 10:08 AM on 07.24.08
->> Walter, sure the military works for us, but that doesn't give every Joe Blow the right to fly over to a war zone and hang out with the troops. I'm not talking about joining the military and going as a soldier. I'm talking about just tagging along.

One thing that has been hinted at, but not confirmed, is who pays the way for the embedded journalist. Does their paper pay for a plane ticket? Do they have to fend for themselves when it's time to eat?

If the military is flying the journalist over,feeding them and supplying them shelter, in my opinion the journalist does NOT have a right to that.

If they are paying for their own flight, shelter, food, ground transportation...Then I think they have a right.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 11:56 AM on 07.24.08
->> Guys, we all pay for it through our taxes.

The military is the enforcer of our political public policy. Our military doesn't do a thing without direction from civilians. My wife's cousin is a Vice Admiral – he takes his orders from the President.

Every American has the right to observe and question the efforts of our elected officials' application of public policy.

With all do respect, I disagree with what to me is a very limited view of what our Constitution is about.

Sorry you've observed fellow journalists who you believe have 'candy asses.' For me it is hard to judge how a journalist would react in a fire fight when covering a typical news event in the United States, or sitting on an assigning desk.

All I know is from being part of a gun battle in the Gaza strip. When bullets are flying, everyone ducks for cover. There are no John Waynes.
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Bob Ford, Photographer
Lehighton | Pa | USA | Posted: 12:21 PM on 07.24.08
->> "Every American has the right to observe and question the efforts of our elected officials' application of public policy."

Agreed! But only if they are doing it on their dime. What I'm saying is that a journalist has no more of a RIGHT to be embedded, at the taxpayers expense, than a regular citizen.

Both pay taxes.

I a photojournalist for a small town newspaper and think it's nice that the military is embedding journalist, but I don't think it's a "right".
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 12:50 PM on 07.24.08
->> Our military created the embedded program after the media requested it. Congress secured the money for the embedded program through out taxes, and the President then spends it on the embedded program.

The "right" is based in the First Amendment of the Constitution that our government (in this case the military) can not restrict our freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is not something government gives us.

If you do not like the military spending money on including journalists in their ranks, then you have the constitutional right to petition Congress to change this practice. In the meantime, we tax payers foot the bill. The news organizations supporting the embedded journalist pays the journalist's salary or assignment fees.
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Bob Ford, Photographer
Lehighton | Pa | USA | Posted: 1:01 PM on 07.24.08
->> Walter, I think I'm just going to have to agree to disagree after this...

The First Amendment reads:

"Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

I don't see any mention of the government funding freedom of the press, just that they can't make laws taking it away.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think it's a good thing that the government/military/congress/tax payers allow journalist to embed with them. I just don't think it's a right.
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Mike McKinney, Photographer
Albuquerque | NM | USA | Posted: 1:42 PM on 07.24.08
->> I’ve bitten my tongue enough over the past couple of years after reading message after message concerning the rights of journalists in combat and the issue of freedom of the press. This string, as well as another even more disgusting one, has prompted to provide an alternate viewpoint, from the eyes of the military.

I’m a professional warrior, not a PJ, who just happens to love photography, hence my reason for joining this site years ago. For the past 18 years I’ve been involved in nearly every combat operation fought by this nation, not as an “embed” but a willing participant. Due to the unique area of the military that I’m involved with, I’ve seen the majority of these operations from the inside, and not by reading journalistic interpretations of events. The beginning message in this string, the linked article, and the continued argument on rights has finally brought me to post my thoughts. I’m sure I’ll get slammed and labeled after this post but that’s my risk, and it may end my association with this website, but I think it’s time to give another viewpoint.

The one issue that has irritated me to no end with many of these strings is the complete lack of respect to fallen military members. I’d like to ask this one question. Because I’m in the military, have I given up my rights to privacy and agreed to have my mutilated, lifeless, burned, disfigured body used as an instrument for the press? Does your freedom of press override my personal rights to privacy? I’m positive that I speak for my fellow service members when I say that using my death as either a political statement or a springboard to international acclaim for the PJ who shot it, is a complete and utter disrespect for not just myself but also my family and friends. Whether my name has been released or not they have the right to not to see my corpse on the front page of every magazine and newspaper; that frankly angers and disgusts me. I find it ironic as hell that while photos of graphic sex would be completely condemned by the media, photos of horrific deaths rarely get a second thought. Many on here continue to claim that taking these photos is somehow “honoring” our sacrifice, in my opinion that is a perverse and short-sided view. When you folks view these photos you think, “what great journalism, that’s a Pulitzer for sure”, what I think is, “God, I hope that’s never me and my kids have to see that”.

Read this PDN article again and you’ll see that the journalist was removed because the “unit commander lost faith” in him. I’m quite sure they mean the commander of the unit he was embedded with. Once again I feel I speak for every person in theater who commands troops, but the people under my command are not pawns and when they die, it’s a very dramatic and emotional moment for those who serve with them. These are men and women, whose families I know personally, have eaten dinner at my house, played with their children, and I am responsible for their safety and making sure they return to their families. The PJ shoots the photo, dashes off to send it out in hopes of glory, and that’s it. They don’t have to confront the families, attend the memorials and funerals, and deal with the aftermath of having someone under your charge lose their life. Those feelings are probably exactly why this unit commander kicked this journalist out of the unit. And frankly, if you did just that while embedded in my unit, you’d quickly lose my faith and suffer the same fate as well.

Lastly, it also amazes me how some members on here can rave about their “best experiences ever” that involved the military, or post photos on their personal sites depicting military members, yet vomit all over us at the blink of an eye. I’ve viewed the upside down American flag icon, the links to articles about atrocities, the complaints about access, and bite my tongue over and over. All of this and you question why the relationship between the press and the military becomes strained or why you’re treated coldly when you “embed” with a unit. When you continue arguing about “your” First Amendment rights yet disregard “our” rights as human beings, then I’ve lost complete confidence and respect for you.
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Bradley Wakoff, Photographer
Fort Collins | CO | USA | Posted: 3:40 PM on 07.24.08
->> Walter- You need to understand that what you think the law ought to be is not, in fact, what the law is. The Court has held that the Declaration is not an enforceable legal document and historically the 10th amendment has held little sway with the Court. So your contention that you have some non-specific or natural right to speak your mind - though that right is well-founded in western political thought - has no legal basis. A limited freedom of speech is guaranteed under the first amendment. So it is, in fact, a right granted to citizens under the government's charter. There is all manner of restricted speech - incitement to violence, kiddy porn, and libel - to name the more obvious. Not all speech is equally protected.

The military does not operate under the same constitutional limits as the civilian government. See the Court's Korematsu v US decision for specifics, but basically the Court held that the military has considerable legal latitude in times of war. Since it has not been trumped by Congressional legislation or subsequent precedent, Korematsu remains the law of the land. Like it or not.

There is an embed contract and it's my understanding that Zoriah was in clear violation of it. I'm not aware that anyone has sought to challenge the embed arrangement or alter the embed contract. If I'm wrong on this, please let me know.

Last, Zoriah was in Iraq, operating in the tangle of legal arrangements set up between the Iraqi government and the US military. (The US military, not the US judiciary or civilian authority - see above). Again, like it or not, the sovereign nation of Iraq does not fall under the jurisdiction of the US Constitution.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm certainly unhappy that the spirit of the First Amendment's press freedom was all but gutted Zoriah's dismissal. But under current, law, there may not have been anything illegal about it.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 5:46 PM on 07.24.08
->> What I'm hearing here is the role of the "Professional Warrior" takes precedence over that of 'ordinary'citizens.

I don't see journalists vomiting over what our military is doing.

I see journalists in very dangerous situations attempting to report what our military is doing at the expense of the American Tax Payer.

It is not a 'right' to be embedded, but then why should the military embed journalist at all? Our military leaders must believe they are getting something out of our coverage. Once embedded, though, arbitrary censorship only reduces the public's view of our military.

When the American Tax Payer thinks she or he is being lied to, then our fighting forces end up in a worse situation. We saw this with the Vietnam War.

I go back to my first posting: Truth is the first casualty of war. I'll let others worry about the fine print.

And the band played on.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 6:22 PM on 07.24.08
->> randy, sorry to disappoint but I think you are sorely mistaken calling me a "candy ass". I've been called an ass many times but never with candy qualifier. Does that mean I should lump you "warriors" all in the same category as the few misguided psychopaths I met in Iraq who wanted to do nothing but "waste the f&$king ragheads"? I think not. So please refrain from talking about something you obviously know very little about. Disclaimer: I don't bite my tongue.
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Jeff Martin, Photographer
wellington | OH | usa | Posted: 8:36 PM on 07.24.08
->> Mike, Thank you, and your comrades, for your service.

Jeff
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:25 PM on 07.24.08
->> mike, as I said in the above post, I don't bite my tongue. I've re-read your post about ten times. Quite frankly, as a PJ...you just don't get it. where on this site have you EVER seen a "total disrespect" for fallen military members? please show me the thread. and don't be so positive you speak for your fellow "warriors", which BTW I've NEVER ever heard a soldier I've talked to use that term (it was a made up term by the current administration and the soldiers and marines I've been dealing with for the past five years HATE the term). I haven't spoken to the dis-embedding (is that a word) of miller. personally, I think he screwed the pooch. I mean, why did he think it was important to post those photos on his blog? sure if it had news value and an agency used it that's a fact of life. I also have to ask where the hell are you getting your info from... "

"I find it ironic as hell that while photos of graphic sex would be completely condemned by the media, photos of horrific deaths rarely get a second thought"

that is patently one of the dumbest things I've ever read on this site. please tell me what newspaper in the US has published photos of dead US soldiers. our society is well known throughout the world for publishing violent images as opposed to sexual images....look at the movie ratings if you don't understand that.
and last but not least...do you not think your statement about folks thinking one of their great experiences "ever" was being embedded with the military was crap? do you realize what an ignorant and argumentative statement that is? I'm supposed to fell BAD because I was embedded? I think not. perhaps you shouldn't have bitten your tongue...I would suggest biting your fingers before writing embarrassing, insulting comments like your post did.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 11:30 PM on 07.24.08
->> sorry for the typo....I wasn't supposed to "fell" bad...it was "feel" bad.
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Rick Rowell, Photographer, Photo Editor
Vista | CA | USA | Posted: 1:24 AM on 07.25.08
->> Chuck, I am the son of a career Marine, 33 years of faithful service by my father to his country. He, and any of his buddies in the Corp are honored to wear the title of WARRIOR! The term was used long before the current administration came into office. My Father and his fellow Marines have used that term many times when speaking of each other. And I still here it to this day when I speak to other active service members in the San Diego area. Just so you know, my father enlisted in 1953 and retired in 1986. Just a few years before the George W. Bush elections of 2000 and 2004.
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Rick Rowell, Photographer, Photo Editor
Vista | CA | USA | Posted: 1:41 AM on 07.25.08
->> Sorry for the typo.... I still hear it, not here it.
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Diego James Robles, Student/Intern, Photographer
Lake Elsinore | CA | U.S. | Posted: 1:56 AM on 07.25.08
->> Mike M., from somebody that has two days left in the military I can tell you that in many ways you are completely right. It's a different culture and you can call yourself whatever you want. Chuck's "I would suggest biting your fingers before writing embarrassing, insulting comments like your post," comment is incredibly hypocritical and ironic but he gets away with murder here because he's funny.

However, as somebody that's been cavalry, infantry, and now public affairs, I see both sides of the argument. News waits for nobody and doesn't give a damn about your feelings and your dead buddy's family's either. Being a PJ makes you a little cynical and sometimes you are more concerned with photography and journalism than with being in-touch with your humanity. It's the same thing when you pull that trigger and go to work. Although I've been fortunate enough to have never killed anybody, friends always ask me how could I do what I did. It's easy, I'm a professional.

The point is, pj is a job too and sometimes you got to pull the trigger and go to work. It's not personal.

I'm getting out because I can't continue to write positive things about units I think are bad, lack discipline, whatever. I'm thinking more objectively these days but I'm going to miss it. This country, and even the media, loves us like no other country loves its sons and daughters.

Unfortunately, the military does not have an obligation to host and protect journaists. Their job is to kick-butt. We let people ride with us because we think it will benefit us. When it doesn't and it hurts morale like Zoriah did; we have to cut you lose. Why do you think they bring us NFL cheerleaders? Hint...not about journalism or the First Amendment.

Last thing Mike M., don't hold your tongue. I know some are overbearing but that's what makes this board great; so you can complain about the blowhards and your Mark III. And leave the news to the journalists.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 8:57 AM on 07.25.08
->> rick, semper fi man. my dad was in 25 years. and that was the main reason I never joined the military (well I also was a working PJ as soon as I got out of HS too) but as you probably remember when your dad is in the corps, YOU'RE in the corps. felt like I had 15 years in by the time he retired. never heard the term but as it's been pointed out many times I'm not always right, opinionated, yup. always right, ahhh, no. and now I'm a murderer. yikes! but diego, except for calling me a murderer 8), you're right on the button with your comments:

"Unfortunately, the military does not have an obligation to host and protect journaists. Their job is to kick-butt. We let people ride with us because we think it will benefit us."

that about sums it up.

but that doesn't mean that those of us who have been fortunate enough to embedded didn't get something out of it too. I meant some fascinating professionals during my embed's. people I won't ever forget. and I was lucky, I got to come home when the paper told me to, unlike the kids who were stuck there for another 10 months. but the bottom line as you also stated, that's my job and that's theirs. okay time for me to go KILL some time.
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Sean D. Elliot, Photographer, Photo Editor
Norwich | CT | USA | Posted: 9:35 AM on 07.25.08
->> Okay, so back to the original subject. As I read it, Zoriah did not publish his blog until he'd been told the families had been notified. That is not in violation of his embed agreement. Now, we don't know the exact wording, and I'm sure there is room for interpretation in any contract, even an military embed agreement. If he was given wrong information by the Marines and published early, then it's not his fault. If the Marines didn't want ANY dead bodies published under any circumstances, then why didn't they include that in the agreement? Regardless of how anyone here feels about the rights of the press in this matter, it sounds like the Marines changed the rules after the fact, and that's all that's really in dispute.

okay, back to the debate over who's more patriotic.
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Kevin Johnston, Photographer
Oden | MI | USA | Posted: 11:23 AM on 07.25.08
->> I don’t think the question in this case is completely where limit is between security and photojournalism is but also where is the line between photojournalism and photography for personal gain.

Sure the Marines and the families of fallen soldiers don’t like photos of their dead comrades, sons and daughters published regardless of any official policy. They don’t like it any more than the family of an automobile accident would like to see horrific photos of their deceased loved ones in print. Unfortunately these types of images (and I’m not saying rightly or wrongly) are sometimes run in the course of providing legitimate news to the public.

In this case though I can see where some people might feel that Zoriah’s blog might not qualify as a legitimate news source. The extensive list of his accolades, published works and the fact that he actively solicits donations from readers might tend to leave some thinking he may be using the blog to promote a personal agenda that does not necessarily include fair and impartial coverage of the events. It certainly could appear that he may be publishing images there that are more intended to promote his own personal gain than those that would disseminate legitimate news. If that is how Zoriah’s blog was viewed by the military command then I can see where they took advantage of the opportunity he gave them to get rid of him.

Given what many feel is the public perception that the news industries credibility as a whole is certainly not at an all time high I think it would be interesting to see where the photojournalists here feel the line between not only security and photojournalism falls but where the line between photojournalism and photography for fame falls.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 7:56 AM on 07.26.08
->> The New York Times has jumped into the debate with an article about this subject in todays, Saturday, July 26, issue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/26/world/middleeast/26censor.html?_r=1&hp&or...

You may have to register with the NY Times web site to read their article.

********

Now to Kevin's observation of 'Legitimate news source.' What is a 'legitimate' news source? The Drudge Report started as a blog, now some people believe it is 'legitimate.'

Is a 'legitimate' news source something own by a large corporation? Our a wealthy family? Or one person using technology to bear witness to world events?

We have no problem looking at the dead when Benazir Bhuto was killed and the people around her were blown to bits.
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Sean D. Elliot, Photographer, Photo Editor
Norwich | CT | USA | Posted: 11:02 AM on 07.26.08
->> To say the NYT story really covers the story is an understatement. PDN relied solely on Zoriah's account and some basic statements. NYT actually spoke to sources in the Marines and pentagon, as well as citing their own experiences in the embed program.

Of course it doesn't solve the problem of this discussion, whether or not it is patriotic to photograph the effects of war, but it establishes pretty clearly that in many cases the military is hostile to the embed program when it does not serve their purposes.

I think it's pretty clear, the Marines were mad he published dead Marines on his blog and used some nuanced reading of the embed agreement to boot him.

It's their game, they get to interpret the rules, but as journalists in a democratic country, it is our right to question their motives and whether or not they are defending principals to which they are not actually willing to submit.

In my opinion, a military conducting itself with honor has nothing to fear from the light of day. Our military has conducted itself generally with honor in this conflict. Forget what you feel about the political run-up to the war, and accept that there are always some bad apples, the military conduct in the war has been conduct they should not be ashamed to show. But they should also accept that the reporting of the down-sides, the deaths and injuries, is part of the game.

Heck, I think the current environment state-side is receptive to these stories and it builds support for the troops even if it undermines the political support. We as a nation have rejected the results of Vietnam, we're not going to blame our soldiers for what our politicians send them to do.

Even the most rabid anti-war folk I know steer clear of the baby-killer rhetoric of the 60' and 70's. Of course it helps that the ranks of the military have swelled with the offspring of the middle class who tend to be the anti-war liberals eh?

As journalists we need to stick to the point of the discussion, is it right for a democratic society to accept restrictions on our press freedoms blindly in a time of war? I say no, I say we protest vehemently that press freedom is compatible with the military mission.

And the contention that Zoriah's photos provided after attack intelligence ... Puh-Leez. It was a "public" meeting, there were plenty more witnesses to provide that info long before the blog was posted. It's an excuse.

The U.S. military needs to get-over Vietnam like the rest of us have and then maybe they'd learn that the media aren't all "out to get them".

anyhow. just my thoughts.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 11:35 AM on 07.26.08
->> What bothers me about the military/government approach to this is they are making our guys sound like they're AFRAID of just about EVERYTHING. We're AFRAID that some bomber might look at a 600 pixel image on a web site and figure out a new and more innovative way to attack. We're AFRAID that they will be emboldened by the sight of carnage. We're AFRAID that a foreign photographer might somehow capture a SECRET...even though we're operating in a dense urban environment SURROUNDED by the enemy.

Whatever happened to the "bring it on" mentality? Screw the other guys, take whatever pictures you want. We can take it. Bring it on. You want a fight? We got a fight. That's the kind of guys I know in the military.

When it comes to death and carnage, whatever happened to the attitude of "See? THIS is what we're up against. THIS is why we need more troops/money/equipment. THIS is what they're doing to your soldiers."

Because the reality is if the safety of our troops is dependent on eliminating all images or records of their operations in the field, we are seriously screwed.

I believe most soldiers ARE proud of what they are doing and they AREN'T afraid of photographers and reporters. But policies originating far from the field of battle effectively muzzle their opinions...and make them look paranoid instead of tough.

There was a time when America was a nation where we were proud of what we did and weren't afraid of people seeing what we're doing. But current policies about everything from embeds, media coverage of politics and leaders, and Gitmo make us look like we're cheap hustlers. The reality is - we're not. But our leaders make the nation look that way.

As the song goes, "Paranoia will destroy ya."
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 11:40 AM on 07.26.08
->> david,
"I believe most soldiers ARE proud of what they are doing and they AREN'T afraid of photographers and reporters. But policies originating far from the field of battle effectively muzzle their opinions...and make them look paranoid instead of tough"
you are 100% correct. it's not the soldiers. it's the base commanders or the middle echelon officers who are the problem. the kids doing the actual fighting WANT their stories to be told. but this is a battle I don't think journalists will ever win....it's kind of like arguing with the cop at a crime scene. you'll never win the battle unless someone over their pay grade intervenes.
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Randy Janoski, Photographer
Washington DC & Nashville | TN | USA | Posted: 12:37 PM on 07.26.08
->> Chuck,
"->> randy, sorry to disappoint but I think you are sorely mistaken calling me a "candy ass"."

As a journalist I'd expect you to read comments better, I never called you a candy ass, I did imply I've known several (and still know several). I meet several (and tried to protect them as best I could) in Vietnam. After leaving military service in 1978 I have covered to date 8 wars as a civilian photojournalist (and in addition assigned over 20 photojournalists into war zones over the years) and indeed in all of them came across journalists/photojournalists that fit that category.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 10:58 PM on 07.26.08
->> My definition of a candy ass journalist is one who doesn't question authority.
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Mike McKinney, Photographer
Albuquerque | NM | USA | Posted: 12:52 AM on 07.27.08
->> I received the expected reactions from my comments, some subtle, some not so. My intent was to provide an often missing opinion to these boards, a military member's view. As I read responses, and the accompanying NYT article, I felt only more vindicated as the words bolstered my position. However, I realize that I need to clarify my first post, and then I’ll address the personal attacks.

I’ll proudly say it again; I am a professional warrior, just as those on here are professional photojournalists. I made that statement not in arrogance but rather to differentiate my role. What I am NOT is a liar or dishonest, nor are my fellow service members, as Mr. Calahan continues to insinuate. I have dedicated my career and life to the study, training, and conduct of warfare. Throughout my career I’ve been surrounded by thousands of men and women of this same caliber and every single one of them proudly considers themselves professional warriors as well. When called upon, we are extremely competent at our craft. Does this make us psychopaths as Mr. Liddy suggests? I realize that not everyone joins the military for the same reasons as I, but if they hate calling themselves a warrior, they should re-evaluate their continued service because this is exactly what being in the military is all about, despite what the recruiting commercials portray.

Mr. Elliot, with all due respect, your comment that it is “part of the game”, is EXACTLY the kind of attitude that causes our frustrations. It’s not the patriotism we question, but the humanity. Warfare is not a “game” to us, instead an extremely serious affair. The considerable time we spend together socializing, training, and fighting, bonds us like no other group of people. As an officer, I hold very dear my responsibility to ensure their safety. When our brothers-in-arms are killed, it is a very intimate moment in time for us. These are the reasons why we respond so passionately concerning photographs of our dead. The same applies to our feelings concerning our funerals. The view of the PJ is that it’s a news story; to us it’s the greatest PERSONAL tragedy our families ever face, and NOT a PUBLIC one. In fact, due to comments I’ve read on this board, I’ve made it clear to my family if that day comes, the press is not welcome at my funeral, a stance they wholeheartedly support.

Two quotes by Marine Captains in the NYT article echo my feelings. I wasn’t there, but from the evidence what I imagine happened was that Mr. Miller’s photographs angered the commander of the unit he was embedded with, who still felt the searing pain of losing those men in the photos. You can quote the First Amendment all you want but this was a matter of respect and not a Constitutional one. Mr. Miller crossed a personal line with this particular commander, betrayed his confidence and disrespected his men. It is NOT a massive Marine Corps conspiracy as many of you imply, Mr. Miller angered the very man responsible for his safety and his superiors supported his desire to remove him. You are correct, I’m sure that “dead bodies” is not in the contract, but that’s not the issue. To most of you, this contract is black and white and you cry foul, but I urge you to read my previous paragraph again and try to understand the viewpoint.

I don’t have time to scour the news media for examples of dead American bodies, although the NYT article claims it has happened. My only comment is to say that the images of burned bodies at Desert One, and those of soldiers being drug through the streets of Somalia, are still burned into my memory, and I recently witnessed them again on a newscast. My comments weren’t specifically focused on Americans but ANY photographs of death. Honestly, I don’t care to see enemy bodies, bombing victims, nor accident victims either; I’m able to comprehend the horror through text.

As for the personal attacks; Mr. Liddy used the terms, “ignorant” and “dumbest” to describe my words, and thus, me, which only confirms my reasons why there is a divide between journalists and military personnel and further illustrates my “vomit” comment. For your information, not only am I a “middle echelon officer”, but I am also one who “does the actual fighting” as you say. Frankly Mr. Liddy, my comments weren’t even directed at you but since you feel so emboldened, I’ll gladly take the “Pepsi challenge” against you-- anytime, anyplace.
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Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami Beach | FL | USA | Posted: 1:59 AM on 07.27.08
->> A very brief response - if you're "part of the story" you're not going to see things the same way as someone who is "covering the story".

With the thousands and thousands of people who have died because Bush invaded Iraq, death has become a very big part of the story.

If someone is embedded, then that person needs to follow the rules (which also need to be specifically defined) if he wants to continue in that position.

Still, the real story that needs to be published is as close to the truth as one can make it, not something that's been altered or limited for propaganda purposes.
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Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami Beach | FL | USA | Posted: 3:58 AM on 07.27.08
->> (I know I shouldn't say this here, as PJ's are supposed to separate "reporting" from "personal opinion", but I think the point needs to be made. There are those who think Bush needs to be impeached for setting up the scenario that put you guys in harm's way in Iraq, and while showing the American public the results of this mess may or may not help that to happen, it will surely help prevent another president from doing the same thing again. Maybe as a PJ such thoughts are wrong, but as a person, it's difficult to ignore them. I could say more, but I don't think I should even have posted this much here...)
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Steve Ueckert, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 8:42 AM on 07.27.08
->> Mike McKinney--

Thank you for your service.

Perhaps you've seen too many dead. If they are your friends, even one is one too many.

Not just a few, but millions of Americans likely have never seen a traumatic fatality. And, yes, there is an issue of morbid curiosity.

But even more so, there is the issue, and I believe this is paramount, of the truth of the conflict. American men and women go into harms way and as the saying goes, "all gave some, some gave all." Without some suggestion that there are casualties, eventually the conflict after the early sensational opening days, will languish into indifference.

This is not just my opinion. It was shared by the War Department and the Administrative Branch when the decision was made to lift the censoring and allow photos of dead Americans in WW II. This was, I believe, from the invasion of Tarawa Atoll. America, the people, had become desensitized to the ongoing conflict as it had to date been reported. The vision of dead Americans awash on a beach had a sobering effect on many Americans. The many Gold Stars that had replaced blue stars almost instantly took on a new meaning across the country.

I believe that if you really want the support of your country you should expect that country to be interested not just in your victories, but also your setbacks, including casualties.

I agree, the death of one in a foxhole is an incredibley intimate event, for the survivor in the foxhole. That is a given. But for American news consumers thousands of miles away seeing a few lines of agate amidst headlines of steroid abuse by pro athletes or Brittney Spears latest scandal, such a report of another American soldier, Marine or airman killed gets lost in the noise. That is, unless there is an element to the report that makes it more than a few lines of agate or a brief few seconds from the newsreader. Just as was seen by American news consumers in 1943, that added element is the visual which provides a chilling reality to the report.

Journalists cannot provide the sounds or smells or other sensory inputs of combat. But in addition to words, images can reinforce, or often take the lead in story-telling, that for every individual in a large, seemingly impersonal number like 4000, there is a real American man or woman associated with those deaths.

I still hold than an embedded journalist cannot freely and independantly tell the whole story. The embed arrangement may be convenient for news managers to get their field journalists most easily to the story, and it may afford military managers a level of control of how a given story, words or images, is reported, but the easy way is not always the best way.

--Steve Ueckert
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:40 AM on 07.27.08
->> mike, you need to read my post a little more carefully. how inflammatory you made my statement by rehashing it wrong in your post. I alluded to a "few" crazy guys I met while in iraq. I never lumped every enlisted soldier in that category. hell,there's a few crazies here on sportsshooter, but what has been common to threads like these is that you guys who are or were in the military see it one way. your way. the media is an annoying convenience at best when things are going your way and as soon as things DON'T go your way, we suck, are candy asses and need to be gone. and I'm curious how you felt vindicated by the NYT article. I think the fact they mentioned after five years of war and over 4000 deaths they were able to find "fewer than a half-dozen graphic photographs of dead American soldiers." that takes the wind out of any argument. but after reading your last post and seeing you were an officer I understand your comments a little better. as I have posted many times before the regular enlisted foot soldiers have never had a problem with the media anywhere I've ever been. they WANT people back home to know what's really going on. the crappy conditions, danger very second and the huge difference in being posted overseas in a war zone on the front lines and not some REMF. but I do totally agree that if a soldier's family doesn't want the media around at their memorial service that is their right. we have never covered an internment or memorial service without being invited. I still am a little unclear where you pull some of these references from. anyway as to the pepsi challenge....I'm already a pepsi guy so there's no challenge.
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Max Whittaker, Photographer
Sacramento | CA | USA | Posted: 4:15 PM on 07.28.08
->> Steve Ueckert: You've put it very well...if you're just skimming this long thread...reread his post.

While embedded in Afghanistan, a commander tried to end my embed after I filed photos of dead Afghans. I wrote about it my piece for the Digital Journalist last year:
http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0705/assault-on-sangin.html

The bottom line for me, as a journalist, is that death and violence are an integral part of war. Any account, visual or otherwise, that doesn't depict death and violence is incomplete. The sanitized version of the Iraq war that the American public sees only serves to deepen their ignorance, assuage their guilt, and not give them any reason to pause on their way to the latest photos of Lindsay or Paris.

I have no doubt that it's an extremely unpleasant, and possibly even traumatic, experience to see a published photo of your friend or relative's dead and mangled body. I know I wouldn't want to...

That said, I hope our soldiers, better than anyone else understand our job. Who else does a job that can have a negative impact on a few people's lives, viewed unfavorably by many, but is ultimately for the greater good of all?
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 4:44 PM on 07.28.08
->> max, I had the same thing happen to me in afghanistan. I shot a photo of a body bag being removed from a helicopter at an FOB and was told I had violated the embed agreement because I had shot the photo (they were apparently an SF group who got ambushed). it was all sorted out after we sat down and went over the agreement line by line and the agreement read you couldn't identify a soldier wounded or dead. they realized the absurdity of the situation when we pointed out the body was inside a black bag. there was no way to identify the casualty, hell we didn't even know what unit the guys were with. they got over it and life went on. after they saw the package online the next day several of the soldiers came to my tent with their flash drives and asked for copies. the problem is they (the commanders) don't want to acknowledge the deaths in any way shape or form, especially visually.
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Jack Gruber, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 5:23 PM on 07.28.08
->> http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10215&Ite...

The ground rules are there to download along with most other information regarding the embedding program.

Should help to clarify and answer questions people have been speculating about concerning embedding.

Also, FYI and rather funny, after Geraldo Rivera's map in the sand broadcast at the start of the war, there was paperwork put in to remove him from his embed for a pretty clear cut violation of the embed ground rules. The paperwork was started at Division level by a very respected and professional Army public affairs team. It went no where. The unit commander Geraldo was embedded with would not hear of bouncing Geraldo from his command since they were getting great play on TV and he basically stated Geraldo was a walking, talking, traveling USO show and was a great morale booster for his soldiers.
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