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Eyes Wide Shut? The Impact of Embedded Journalism on Dutch Newspaper Coverage of Afghanistan

1 April 2008

The Dutch Ministry of Defence developed a policy of embedded journalism as an integral part of the communication strategy for the deployment of Dutch troops to Uruzgan. This policy allows journalists to report from inside the military on operations in Afghanistan, and built on earlier experiences of the United States and United Kingdom, and experiments by the Dutch military in Iraq.

From the point of view of the Ministry the policy has satisfied its primary objective: to put the mission in the spotlight. It has resulted in a constant stream of articles from a variety of newspapers and journals. At the same time, the embed arrangement has led to a narrowing of focus of the media coverage to predominantly Dutch military affairs. Embedded journalists focus on tactical reporting from the military base, and most articles cover military operations or daily life of soldiers at the military camp in southern Afghanistan. In addition, in the two years since the inception of the embed policy, the Ministry has helped create a core group of ‘defence reporters’ who are knowledgeable on military matters and regularly report on Afghanistan.