Literature Review

Appendix A
Appendix B


Tone of coverage

Initially we argue that the tone of stories produced by embedded reporters should be more positive in tone toward the military than stories produced by non-embedded journalists. This paper focuses on the relationships that developed between embedded journalists and their respective military units. These interpersonal relationships helped foster effective representation of the units and the military as a whole. To understand why, we offer three theories drawn from communication literature.

According to Altman, Taylor and Wheeler (1973), Altman and Taylor developed a theory based on the phrases, do "birds of a feather flock together," or do "opposites attract." The two social psychologists study how relational closeness is developed among individuals. This is where our project looks at the context of social relationships that are forged between embedded media and military personal in the field. During the latest war in Iraq, the Pentagon’s decision to allow journalists to accompany military units, in essence, made American reporters a de facto part of the so-called coalition forces. David Carr (2003) said, “war coverage on the ground, by nature, is a one-side affair.” In Iraq, journalists literally see the war from the same point of view as the army that is feeding them both information and rations” (p. 1). A new standard of openness and immediacy has been created for war coverage.

The theory of social penetration helps explain one of many ideas of the way humans respond when relationships reveal more and more information about themselves. There are many ways to define the social penetration theory but the central ideal is that relationships begin with relatively limited breadth and shallow depth and then begin to progress over time in intensity and intimacy as both breadth and depth increase (Gamble & Gamble, 1996). The theory refers to the degree of intimacy that guides topic discussions. Both of these are necessary for a relationship to form. In order to get to know someone you must self-disclose on a variety of topics and at some depth in order for a relationship to grow.

According to Heath and Bryant (2000), Altman and Taylor used an “onion” to model how each disclosure by a partner allows the other partner to know another “layer” of who they are. The theorists originally posited on four stages of relational development: orientation, in which one disclosed very minimal or superficial information about ones self, exploratory affective exchange, where disclosure of information from a partner may begin to reveal aspects of their personality and more private thoughts; affective exchange, in which the “I” starts to become the “we” in relationships; and stable exchange, which is highly intimate and can be characterized as a constant openness. Some relationships may never reach this final stage (Heath & Bryant, 2000). This theory highlights the development, maintenance, and deterioration of social relationships (Derlega, Metts, Petronio & Margulis, 1993).

The behavioral process through which depth and breadth of the interaction can be achieved is self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is the sharing of information with others that they would not normally know or discover. Self-disclosure performs several functions. The general model is that trust is developed and strengthened when both persons self-disclose and show support for each other’s disclosures (Infante, Rancer & Womack, 1997). Self-Disclosure, more or less, is defined as what individuals verbally reveal about themselves to others, which include thoughts, feelings, and experiences, which plays a major role in close relationships.

The social penetration theory also combines the ideas of rewards and costs from exchange theory in order to account for evaluation processes in ongoing relationships (Chelune, 1979). Reported in the New York Times during Operation Iraqi Freedom, a reporter who had nothing to protect his face against a 48-hour sandstorm beyond a ripped T-shirt was presented with a gift of a garment designed to protect his face and neck. Gasoline for reporters’ vehicles is bartered for phone time with loved ones. The uniqueness of social penetration theory is that it explicates the developmental aspects of relationships in the context of rewards and cost. According to Chelune (1979), “Rewards and cost are viewed as the motivational units that propel relationships through various stages of development and continuous reciprocity of self-disclosure occurs as long as individuals mutually experience a favorable reward-cost balance” (p. 114).

Unless the people who share a relationship are able to continue to grow together and adapt to their continually changing environment, the relationship may begin to deteriorate at any point. According to the cost-benefit theory, partners will work to maintain a relationship only as long as the benefits we perceive for ourselves outweigh the cost (Thibaut & Kelly, 1959). The greater our rewards and the lower our costs, the more satisfying a relationship will be. When an individual sees the relationship as being positive they will continue to become closer with the person.

The outcome of the relationship is directly related to the benefits each individual receives. Embedded media and military personal will inevitably develop a relationship while working side by side, which makes this theory a practical application in interpersonal communications. As a general framework, relationships will develop as time goes on. These relationships developed through interpersonal communication will lead to the embedded reporter becoming part of the military culture.

The organizational culture metaphor used in organizational communication studies provides a way of thinking about both organization and communication (Pacanowsky & O'Donnell-Trujillo, 1983). We review organizational culture to show how embedded journalists become part of the military unit's culture, which results in more positive press coverage of the military, unit and personnel compared to unilateral journalists.

The uniformed military is highly unique and in the publics eye "the uniform indicates a state of authority, which encompasses the power to forbid, to instruct, to authorize and to punish people" (Soeters, 2000). A person simply has to see the uniform to understand the nature of the organizational uniqueness. The culture of the military is divided into three main aspects; the communal life in uniform, a distinct hierarchy, and a chain of command. Military organizations have two sides, one that tries to prevent problems and one that responds to a crisis or problem. These two sides divide the military into two sub-cultures called cold and hot. The cold organization is the time spent in peace, usually in garrison, and committed to training and preparing for worst case scenarios. The hot organization is in the front lines. Soeters (2000) observes that hot conditions occur when "members have to perform critical dangerous, violent, ambiguous and hence stressful circumstances" (p. 474). This hot culture is a primary focus for our study of embedded journalists as this culture promotes bonding. In a crisis situation, "organizational members form a strong, cohesive group with a collective mind" (Soeters, 2000). The embedded journalist views and experiences the overall culture of the military, but is immersed in the hot culture.

According to Fineman (2001), organizational cultures and sub-cultures bond people emotionally and define the nature and legitimacy of their emotionality. The aura of emotions during war-time between military members are easily described by Fineman (2001) as feelings of loyalty, family, and shared fate that stirs primitive bonding when drama is well scripted and the props are appropriate, which is relevant in war. This bonding in war is an inherent part of military culture when lives are at stake, and this type of emotion may not exist in peacetime.

Pacanowsky & O'Donnell-Trujillo (1983) explain that organizational members are choice-making individuals in the theatricality of performances. The notion of "theatricality" in an organization refers to each organization as a stage and each member as an actor with different parts, masks and scenes. These members do not conform to behavioral laws within the organization, but rather act in ways that reflect the social conventions of other members. This is important when considering the embedded journalist as a member of a military unit. The journalist reacts and conforms to the individuals around him in a way to build an esprit de corp. Also, military units have rituals they perform; for example, manners in which military members speak and act, and the way they display their character in a war environment. These rituals orient members temporally introducing a sense of regularity into the culture. Being participants in these rituals give the embedded journalist access to a particular sense of a shared reality, which in turn will bond them to the culture.

Pacanowsky and O'Donnell-Trujillo (1983) also discuss organizational communication as enculturation, which "refers to those processes by which organizational members acquire the social knowledge and skills necessary to behave as component members" (p.143). Some enculturation processes are meant for the organizational newcomer - the embedded journalist. "These performances inform newcomers what particular activities should be done, how such activities should be done, and why such activities should be done" (p.144). This instills in the journalist both their function and status in the organizational culture and provides a basis for bonding to the culture.

Eisenberg and Riley (2001) add that "a person's identity is not found in behavior or in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going" (p. 305). The identity an embedded journalist develops is dependent on the choices he can or cannot make. This ties in to a differentiation perspective to organizational reward - communication when individuals may deviate from the norm. Martin (1992) describes differentiation as being suspicious of organization-wide cultures that exist and that deviants sometimes are seen as heroes who go against the organizations desires to conform. Unwillingness to conform may lead to the deviant being removed from the organization. For example, Geraldo Rivera, a Fox news journalist, was flown out of Iraq April 1 for giving away his unit's location (Plante, 2003). This behavior goes against the culture established for embedded journalists during their indoctrination into the unit. This personal action could have cost Rivera his life or the lives of members of the unit and ultimately led to his inability to keep a dialogue open in the organization's culture after this event.

Organizational communication as politics also plays a role in the embedded journalist's view of and indoctrination of military culture. Two sub-cultural self-interests of organizations, personal strength and cementing allies, help organizations influence others (Pacanowsky & O'Donnell-Trujillo, 1983). Members in an organization display personal strength in many ways, but the most obvious is the simple command of "do it" and it is done. This relates to embedded journalists, who must obey the commands of the military members around them because their life may depend on listening to the instructions. Cementing allies involves the recruitment and establishment of a relationship with "loyal" others (Pacanowsky & O'Donnell-Trujillo, 1983, p.142). The embedded journalist fosters this self-interest as a loyal companion and by doing so must submit to instructions that are intended to save his and the military members lives. This broad look at organizational culture presents a justification as to why embedded journalists will produce more positive news coverage than unilateral journalists. Homophily provides another explanation as to why embed coverage should be more positive.

There is no one single definition of homophily. However, there are common characteristics which remain salient throughout. First, homophily constitutes similarity or likeness between entities. The similarities are in characteristics such as location, origin, language or race. Second, homophily generally is used when describing the communicative relationship between people. That is, people who are similar in sociodemographic backgrounds are more likely to communicate because they are homophilous (Cook, Mcpherson, & Smith-Lovin, 2001). The common saying, “birds of a feather flock together,” represents the elementary definition of homophily (McPherson and Rotolo, 2001). Conversely, the opposite of homophily would be heterophily or dissimilarity in persons (Bloch, Cameron, & Yin, 2001).

The conceptual approach to study homophily is to have a better understanding of why humans communicate better with some and poorly with others. Touhey (1974) conceptually thought of homophily as the measurement of congruency between two persons in a dyad. One goal in communication research is to understand what makes people communicate effectively to one another. As a concept of similarity, homophily lends itself to understanding communication on a broader aspect to larger populations (Cook, 2000).

The early studies of contemporary homophily can be traced to Aristotle and Plato. Aristotle said people love those who are like themselves, while Plato said, similarity begets friendship. However, homophily as a theory has been studied formally in the 20th Century to present. Present day research begins with Lazersfeld and Merton’s (1954) sociological studies between two small towns. Early studies focused on small groups and were qualitative in nature. Observations grew into studies of networks of people and how groups interact with one another (Deseheilds & Kara, 2000).

Contemporary studies of homophily tend to be focused on groups rather than individuals. The research results on a group communicating have a larger application reach than individual studies. Individual studies, however, are just as powerful in the political arena. Modern day research involved such groups as the European Union, entertainment industry, public education and private industry.

For the purposes of this paper, homophily is a natural choice in theory application. The nature of the embed process positions reporters eating, sleeping and sometimes surviving with service members 24/7.

The Social penetration, organizational culture and homophily theories offer a rationale for our prediction that:

H1: Compared to non-embedded reporting, embedded journalists produce more positive coverage of a) the military generally, and b) its personnel

Because of the more positive coverage deriving from the embedded journalist's interpersonal communication, becoming part of the military culture, and becoming similar to the military personnel they report on, we further our research on how the articles are then framed for the public's use.

Nature of coverage

We now argue that relationships formed between embedded journalists and troops will cause the embedded journalists to use more episodic framing in their stories. To examine this hypothesis, we use priming and framing concept. Although research projects on priming and framing have routinely been applied to the study of television news, the concepts can easily be looked at in the context of print news coverage as well. Both are factors in media agenda-setting theory, which maintains that, “those problems that receive prominent attention on the national news become the problems the viewing public regards as the nation’s most prominent” (Iyengar & Kinder, 1987, 16). Priming is described by Iyengar and Kinder as the media’s inclination toward focusing on some aspect of a problem while scarcely covering other sides of the issue. The priming effect influences how the public judges an issue, and whom to blame, if any is due, is assigned to the players. Framing is how a news organization decides to cover an issue, normally relying on subtle differences in wording and placement and choice of stories that will be covered (Iyengar, 1991).

The huge impact the media has on how society responds to issues cannot be understated. With so many news sources available, the public needs some way to make sense of issues important to them. What messages news consumers process and what messages they ignore is determined by several factors including interest in a topic, uncertainty and effort required to properly evaluate the received message (Weaver, 1991). These factors, though not an exhaustive list, give insight on how the presentation of an issue may impact how the consumer perceives the particulars of the issue. Priming and framing deal with how information is disseminated. The way a story is framed is relevant to how a story is told and how the public perceives the information.

News stories can be classified into two distinct framing categories – episodic and thematic. Episodic framing takes a “case study or event-oriented report and depicts issues in terms of concrete instances”(Iyengar, 1991, p. 141). For example, a single murder or a car-accident story could be classified as episodic in framing. Thematic framing covers the underlying general issues and background of a story rather than presenting it as a quick-hit, one-time event (Iyengar, 1991). Examples of thematic framing are stories about the economy, crime in the nation or health care issues. According to Iyengar (1991), while most stories contain an element of both, episodic framing, which may lead to uneven understanding of issues in their entirety, tends to dominate coverage.

Most priming and framing studies have focused on how news media present social and political issues and how the techniques are used during political campaigns. Iyengar (1991) used the issues of crime, terrorism, poverty, unemployment, racial inequality and the Iran-Contra affair. The obvious present-day issue stems from how embedded journalists in Operation Iraqi Freedom cover as compared to reports on earlier conflicts involving U.S. military action. The other conflicts chosen for this study are 2002’s Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and the first Gulf War of 1991. The war has impacted most of the American public directly and extensive news coverage from embedded reporters allows for a thorough study of how the news was presented. As a result of the closeness and bonds that develop between embedded journalists and military personnel, and the considering the tenants of framing, we predict that:

H2: Compared to non-embedded coverage, embedded journalist articles about the military, units, and personnel are more episodic in nature.