Literature Review

Appendix A
Appendix B


This examination explored the role of the embedded journalists and their impact on the tone and framing of coverage. Newspaper coverage by embedded reporters in the three conflicts analyzed was more positive in tone toward the military and troops interviewed than those of non-embedded reporters. Additionally, stories written by embedded print journalists were more episodic in nature of coverage, focusing on individual service members, units and events vice the conflicts as strategic wholes.

As Appendix B and the results section demonstrate, there was a marked difference in mean attitude and trust measures between embedded and non-embedded reporters’ stories. Embedded reporters were far more likely to report stories more positive toward the military overall, and more trusting of individual military people. These findings were constant across the conflicts analyzed. The results support the assumption of H1 that, as journalists are absorbed into military organizations – by meeting and congregating with troops, learning about their service culture and establishing similarity – the more positive the reporting will be. As Victoria Clarke, former head of DoD Public Affairs and a principal architect of the embed policy, stated in an interview with Eisman (2003):
Anytime you can give people an up-close and personal look at the U.S. military, you're having a good day. Because they're so professional. They're so well-trained. They're so dedicated. And by demonstrating that, you can build and maintain a lot of support. (p. A5)
Our findings support the assertion that the development of a relationship between reporters and troops will result in stories that characterize the military in the way Clarke suggests.

Referring again to Appendix B and the results section, H2 was also supported. H2 stated that embedded reporting would be more episodic in nature than non-embedded reports. Episodic coverage displays a description of events, or individual stories compared to thematic coverage, which is "big picture" and broader in scope. The results supported this prediction, demonstrating a significant tendency of embedded reporters to focus on singular events and individual troops over the course of a conflict. Increased familiarity with troops and units results in more positive coverage. Our findings indicated that, not only was the coverage more episodic, but episodic coverage was closely correlated with a more positive tone toward the military. Combined, closer relationships between reporters and troops result in more episodic and, therefore, more positive portrayal of the military in general and the troops specifically.

A possible draw back of purely episodic coverage of a story as big as war is that the presentation would not allow for a deeper understanding of the background issues associated with the conduct of combat. Iyengar (1991) says episodic stories -- while bringing to life single people or events in a way thematic stories don't -- may focus too much on aspects of little import at the expense of important general, interconnected issues that contribute to greater learning. This concern, however, is balanced by the fact that the newspapers analyzed ran a mix of stories from embedded and non-embedded reporters which resulted in fair space devoted to both episodic- and thematic-dominated stories. Therefore, the presence of embedded media and the framing they provided may have contributed more to public knowledge and richer coverage than macro-issue focused, purely thematic coverage would or could have.

If the success of the embed program is to be measured by the positive coverage originating from embedded sources, our analysis shows that the Department of Defense met its goals in the area of print coverage. According to Strupp (2003), the four newspapers used in our sample have a combined circulation of more than 3 million and are all in the top seven of largest U. S. newspapers. The influence and impact of these newspapers extends beyond printed copies in circulation to online versions of daily papers, in extensive citation by other media sources (television, radio, internet, etc.) and reliance by public officials and policy makers on these publications for information. This ripple effect makes these publications even more salient than mere circulation suggests. The results of our analysis resonate beyond the seemingly limited scope of our study and are worthy of further research in other media venues, namely television coverage.


With any study, there are some limitations. The limitations identified in this project are: time allotted to complete the study, lack of experience in conducting content analysis, military status of coders, wars selected for study and lack of generalization to all reporters.

Researchers want to publish in a timely fashion; however, due to the time constraints of the Joint Course in Communication at the University of Oklahoma, the researchers were under a deadline for a final grade. This research study was completed in three weeks. Due to this time constraint, the researchers narrowed their focus to all stories pertaining to combat within a 5-day window after the start of ground operations in the opposing country. By selecting only five days, this limited the study's sample size. Many articles before and after this time period were excluded. Potentially, these articles could have brought more significant data to the findings. By enlarging the field of study, future researchers can build a more accurate and powerful collection of data.

The lack of experience by the research team was a significant limitation. Coders should be experienced and of a similar academic background and training should be more than a simple discussion of the coding categories (Kaid & Wadsworth, 1989). Furthermore, coders had various educational levels which added some limitation to the study. Future researchers should develop a more in depth code book and use experienced coders.

Another limitation in this research was the bias of the coder. The coders were Department of Defense members, each trained in military public affairs. Because of their official functions in the military, the coder's views may have been biased toward coverage of military and combat operations in the articles. Whether military members would be more or less critical of the newspaper coverage cannot be determined. Future researchers should use coders that are not tied in some way to coverage or content of the articles.

The wars/conflicts that were used in this study have an overall positive impact on the United States and the military because the military met its objectives. However, a limitation is derived from this outlook. This study did not analyze embedded journalists from a war/conflict that resulted in negative impact toward the U.S. or the military; for example the Vietnam War. This does not mean embeds in Vietnam did not produce more positive or episodic coverage, but future research may consider this limitation, to lend more historical credence to the findings.

The last limitation is one of generalizability. In this study we only researched stories from print journalists. There is a myriad of radio and TV coverage, both embed and non-embed reporting. This study concentrated on the print journalist, because it was the most economical way for the researchers to view the coverage. Future researchers may want to consider a sample from all forms of media to give the study more powerful results.