Greedy Media: Army Families, Embedded Reporting, and War in Iraq

Ender, Morten G.; Campbell, Kathleen M.; Davis, Toya J.; Michaelis, Patrick R.
February 2007
Sociological Focus;Feb2007, Vol. 40 Issue 1, p48
Academic Journal
Embedded reporting in Operation Iraqi Freedom provided real-time coverage of soldiers in war that was viewed and read by publics around the globe. Most constituents, such as the military media, and the larger U.S. public perceived this coverage as positive; however, live television coverage had an intense and uncalculated impact on some U.S. Army wives and others on a military post at the individual, community, and institutional levels. This study provides a qualitative perspective on U.S. Army wives (N = 23) and their children on a military post whose soldiers deployed in the earliest phase of the war in Iraq in 2003. Live coverage created three types of viewing for Army wives and their children--compulsive, controlled, and constrained--and hastened use of other types of communication media. Live coverage also contributed to the expansion of the traditional definition of the military family and extended the reach of the Family Readiness Groups and the role of the Rear Detachment Command. We argue for an extension of Mady Segal's "greedy institution" application to the military family to include the mass media--specifically live television coverage of war.


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