The Pentagon's final guidelines for press coverage of Persian Gulf combat includes a rule that will bar unescorted reporters from accompanying combat units and a clarification of the "security review" of press pool stories.
The new guidelines put into effect Tuesday add an explicit provision that the "ultimate decision" on what to publish will rest with "the originating reporter's news organization," not with the military.News organizations protested last week when the Pentagon released a draft of guidelines calling for military review of reports produced by journalists who cover combat in "pools" that operate under official escorts.
If war breaks out in the gulf, most press coverage will be confined to these press pools, organized by the military. Pool journalists share their material with correspondents who were unable to see the front lines.
In refining its guidelines, the Pentagon tightened its control over the reporting process by stating flatly that journalists who are not under military escort "will not be permitted into forward areas."
Assistant Secretary of Defense Pete Williams said the new guidelines restricting so-called unilateral coverage were issues "in response to many questions."
The guidelines state that "news media personnel who are not members of the official . . . media pools will not be permitted into forward areas."
"Reporters are strongly discouraged from attempting to link up on their own with combat units," the guidelines said. "U.S. commanders will maintain extremely tight security throughout the operational area and will exclude from the area of operation all unauthorized individuals."