Reporters at War

Article excerpt

Byline: David Jones, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Reporters at war

If the war is unfolding largely as the generals planned it, things have gone a little less smoothly for our reporters in the Pentagon's "embed" program, though not so as to impair our ability to cover the conflict.

Our first "casualty" was reporter Guy Taylor, who was embedded with the 4th Infantry Division, which was scheduled under the original war plan to have driven toward Baghdad from the north.

That plan fell apart when Turkey refused to let U.S. forces use its territory for a staging ground; Mr. Taylor remains stuck at Fort Hood, Texas, waiting with the 4th Infantry to see whether they will ever be deployed.

On the other hand, we picked up a reporter thanks to the efforts of photographer J.M. Eddins Jr. who is attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, driving northward into Iraq from Kuwait.

Mr. Eddins, concerned that there was no reporter to tell the stories that went with his pictures, teamed up with writer John Bebow of the Detroit News, who is embedded in the same unit but had no photographer to illustrate his stories.

Editors at the two papers got together on the telephone and quickly agreed to a swap; we get free use of Mr. Bebow's stories, and they get free use of Mr. Eddins' photos.

So far we have been able to publish three of Mr. Bebow's stories, including a front-page story on Friday in which he described an Iraqi rocket sailing over the heads of the Marines so low they could see its fins.

Mr. Bebow is on our pages again today with an article about life on the lengthy supply convoy making its way northward through the Iraqi desert, trying to keep up with the frontline tank units leading the charge.

Staff reporter Betsy Pisik and photographer Maya Alleruzzo, meanwhile, had apparently secured for themselves a sort of impromptu embed slot while in Kuwait and were hoping to join up with their new unit today.

However, those plans remained very much in doubt as of last night as a result of logistical problems, including the lack of a vehicle for them to ride in. Reports of deaths of several journalists on the battlefield yesterday may also have made the military leery of taking on any more reporters. …