WASHINGTON (AP) -- Top executives of 17 news organizations are asking the Pentagon to revise its war coverage policies because restrictions in the Persian Gulf "made it impossible for reporters and photographers to tell the public the full story."
Citing a string of roadblocks placed before gulf war correspondents, the news chiefs said the restrictions had little to do with security, serving instead to sanitize the nature of war and the image of the military.
"Television, print and radio alike start with one sobering realization," the journalists said in their detailed report. "There was virtually no coverage of the gulf ground war until it was over."
The report went to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, along with a 10-point "Statement of Principles" designed to "strike the proper balance between the public's right to know and the legitimate need to preserve operation security" in wartime.
The executives suggested a meeting with Mr. Cheney to find common ground.
"We are very receptive to suggestions from these experts in the news industry," said Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams.
News executives acknowledge polls that indicate the public was largely satisfied with gulf war coverage, but told Mr. Cheney nonetheless they feel it's imperative the war "not serve as a model" for future coverage.
Specifically, they said independent reporting should replace the so-called pool system by which journalists were organized into small groups and escorted into the field.
The journalists provided Mr. Cheney numerous accounts to demonstrate that once the ground war began their stories and pictures were ensnarled by a system that combined security review with logistical delays.