In September, when the popular blog conglomerate Pajamas Media reported that there were only nine embedded journalists in Iraq, readers lashed out, blaming a cowardly media. But the reality is convoluted. The Pentagon permits an extremely limited number of journalists access, while denying other embed requests that would have been permitted as recently as a year ago.
Following up on the Pajamas Media report, I con tacted Major Jeffrey Pool, the Marine officer in charge of tracking media in Iraq. He confirmed the figure of only nine embedded reporters. Three were from Stars and Stripes, one from the Armed Forces Network, another from a Polish radio station who was with Polish forces, and one Italian reporter embedded with his country's troops. Of the remaining three, one was an author gathering material for later, leaving two who were reporting on a regular basis to what you might think would be the Pentagon's center of gravity: American citizens.
Although the number of embeds is in constant flux, on the day of Major Pool's report there was approximately one independent journalist for every 75,000 troops. Most embeds last for a matter of days. So, how are our troops doing in Iraq? Afghanistan? Who knows?