Media military relations

The British military formally recognised the issue of journalist safety in war following an INSI-led initiative by major news organisations concerned over the mounting death toll of journalists on the battlefield.

The British Ministry of Defence (MOD) Green Book of working arrangements with the media now contains a chapter on journalist safety.

Critically, it also recognises the right of correspondents to move freely on the battle field and pledges that "UK forces on operations will never deliberately target either individual correspondents or civil media facilities".

INSI, supported by the London-based News Security Group, began talks with the MOD and submitted a list of suggestions aimed at improving news media safety in war when it became known almost two years ago that work had started on an updated version of the Green Book of media operations.

The INSI-MOD talks began with the question of why the military should do more for journalists than embed them. While embedded news teams are protected by the troops around them, the exposure of non-embeds and freelancers had to be brought to the military's attention and openly addressed.

The MOD accepted that there will be independent journalists in the battle space seeking to balance the reporting of the embedded journalists and then moved to meet some of the concerns of INSI and the NSG, which comprises the BBC, ITN, Sky News, Reuters, APTN and the US networks CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS. The Guardian newspaper, a member of INSI's Advisory Board, was also part of the initiative.