Embeds Muster out of Military

Article excerpt

They head for home - or stay in Iraq searching for a post-Saddam scoop

Newspapers are pulling their reporters and photographers out of once- coveted military embedding slots in droves, choosing to bring many Persian Gulf War II correspondents home and give others nonembedded assignments. "They were finished," James Smith, foreign editor of The Boston Globe, said about his paper's three embedded reporters, who left their units last week to return to the United States. "The military aspects are over."

In Iraq, Smith said, the Globe still has three free-roaming reporters and a photographer in Baghdad and a reporter and photographer in Basra: "They are providing very important pieces about life under Saddam, the transition, and what comes next."

The embedding program, which once had nearly 800 journalists traveling with U.S. military units, has seen the number drop to fewer than 190 in the last three weeks, since the fall of Baghdad.

Smith's view is shared by many editors who recently removed reporters from embedded slots. "There is better stuff elsewhere," said Colin McMahon, foreign editor of the Chicago Tribune, which at one point had seven embedded reporters, but is down to only one. "It is good to still have one person in there, but the real story is rebuilding and the politics, and you can only get that by talking to the Iraqi people."

The Tribune also has six nonembedded reporters and two photographers in the region, including one who is setting up a Baghdad bureau. McMahon said the paper likely will keep at least three or four staffers in Iraq for the next several months. "We want someone in the north, south, and in Baghdad," he said.

Army Maj. …