By Daryl Lang/Photo District News, Editor & Publisher, Oct 15, 2009
NEW YORK The U.S. military in eastern Afghanistan recently changed its media embed rules to ban pictures of troops killed in the war.
“Media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action,” says a ground rules document issued Sept. 15 by Regional Command East at Bagram Air Field.
This language is new. A version of the same document dated July 23 says, “Media will not be prohibited from covering casualties” as long as a series of conditions are met.
Pictures of American military deaths are rare, but until now they have not been officially banned during either of the ongoing wars.
The new language was added in early September, according to a military spokesperson, Master Sgt. Tom Clementson of Regional Command East Public Affairs. Clementson described it as “a clarification rather than a new rule.”
“The clarification was added to ensure that service members’ privacy and propriety are maintained in situations where media have unique and intimate access as embedded reporters,” Clementson wrote by e-mail in response to questions. “While RC East does everything possible to accommodate an embedded reporters’ ability to cover the war in this region, there is also a command responsibility to account for the best interests of its service members.”