FRUSTRATED United States journalists, despairing of a pool system
they say is impeding full coverage of the war in the Gulf, are
striking out in growing numbers on their own unauthorized visits to
In doing so, they are following in the footsteps of foreign
counterparts, whose effective exclusion from the pools has forced
them to rely on their own resources to provide first-hand coverage
of the conflict.
The US military, however, upset by what it calls "unilateral"
reporting trips, is threatening offenders with suspension of their
Saudi Arabian press credentials.
Four members of a French TV crew were detained near the
Saudi-Iraqi border Friday evening by a US Marine Corps patrol. The
Marines will ask the Saudi authorities to revoke the journalists'
credentials and visas, said Marine spokesman Chief Warrant Officer
As the prospect of a ground war looms, tensions are rising
between correspondents and the military organizers of the pool
system, who authorize small groups of journalists to accompany
troops on the condition they make their reports available to all
"The system is working very poorly," complains Phil Shenon of The
New York Times. "My paper has had a reporter in the field for only
five or six days" since the war began Jan. 17. "We have got much
more by sending a correspondent out in his own car to talk to the
troops," he adds.
Col. Bill Mulvey, the Army officer in charge of arranging the US
pools, says he has not been able to attach journalists to units as
much as he would like because of logistical difficulties, the
distances involved, and because field commanders have not been ready
to accept reporters. Even if that were not the case, he says, with
more than 800 press people registered at his Joint Information
Bureau, "we are never going to satisfy the journalists."
The lack of official access to the troops has prompted increasing
numbers of reporters to drive north in their own vehicles seeking
"The whole pool system is eroding because the restrictions are so
unrealistic and journalists are growing in frustration and
boldness," says Chuck Lewis, of the Hearst newspaper chain.
"To do their job, people have to consider ways of doing it
outside the system," adds Associated Press reporter John King.
To Colonel Mulvey, however, organizations that bypass the system
have no place on his pools. …