Reporters on the Job
• Who's in Charge? When correspondent Ken Bensinger went to Valle de Allende, Mexico, he expected to find a poor Mexican village where armed women had taken control to win government reparations after their town had been displaced by a dam (page 4). "That's exactly how they were cast in the Mexican media," he says.
But when he got there, Ken found a well-organized media machine run by men. "There was already a camera crew from a Mexican network there, and we were taken on a three-hour driving tour of the area. The organizers told me that they've been doing at least one press conference a day for weeks," says Ken.
He got suspicious when Comandanta Victoria, the voice of the movement, arrived accompanied by a tall man who never left her side. "Within about 10 minutes, it became clear to me that she wasn't the one pulling the strings," says Ken. Some of the reporters left immediately after the tour, persuaded that this was a village taken over by women warriors. Ken stayed and spent another three hours talking to members of the village. "I came away with the realization that I was just another target of a very successful media manipulation game."
• Embedded Restrictions: Gone are the days when stories from embedded reporters are reviewed before filing, says staff writer Scott Peterson, who is with the US Marines in Fallujah (page 1). "When you begin an embed like this, you agree to certain restrictions," say Scott. Among them: don't mention anything having to do with 'operational security,' such as giving away the battle plan. Also casualties can't be named in photographs until family have been notified. "The documents I signed spell out, in fact, that no officer can prevent a journalist from photographing or filming casualties."
David Clark Scott