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a journalist placed in a military unit in order to provide news coverage during a war
'Top of the agenda, as news organisations frantically plan for the possible war in Iraq, is not just the safety of journalists per se, but those being deployed under the new euphemism embedding.'Steuben Courier, New York February 24th 2003
the concept of embedding … is nothing new. Before he rose to political greatness, Winston Churchill was a war correspondent
This specific sense of embed, which first appeared last year, has been featured in news reports from both sides of the Atlantic during the past week in the context of the potential war with Iraq. US military officials and news organizations have been planning to place (embed) hundreds of reporters, photographers and cameramen in military units. Potential embeds have been offered specialist military survival training. The whole operation, coined the Embed program, is happening on a larger and more organized scale than ever previously contemplated.
This new verb sense is of course related to the core meaning of embed (i.e. placing something deeply into something else). The new sense also has an intransitive reading, e.g. Military correspondents have said they would like to embed with a unit. Predictably, the term has been used as a modifier in compounds such as embed process and embed opportunity, and there is a related process noun embedding. The countable noun embed, used to refer to such journalists, has gained ground considerably over the past two weeks, and a Pentagon news transcript talked on 27th February 2003 about air embeds (journalists based in the air as opposed to with ground forces).
The concept of embedding (journalists going behind the lines with the military) is nothing new. Before he rose to political greatness, Winston Churchill was a war correspondent who first gained notoriety through being taken captive during the Boer War. During the Falklands War in 1982, journalists were stationed on British troop ships and many were made honorary officers.
This article was first published on 10th March 2003.