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Media in the crossfire


DP Veteran
Jul 31, 2005
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media suffers collateral damage from war

War supporters accuse journalists of undercutting the troops by highlighting problems and ignoring progress in Iraq. War opponents also are unhappy. They say the media failed to question the need for war and sanitize the conflict by refusing to show gruesome scenes of carnage.

"If you believe the liberal media's reporting on the American military effort in Iraq, you're almost forced to be ashamed of America," the Media Research Center, a conservative media-watchdog group, said in a recent message to potential donors.

In return for a donation, the organization will send a specially inscribed military-style dog tag to a soldier in Iraq. "Don't believe the liberal media!" the dog tag says. "I'm just one of millions of Americans who realize that powerful elements in the media are undermining the war effort."

Despite the Media Research Center's harsh criticism of the coverage, Richard Noyes, the organization's research director, expressed uncertainty when he was asked whether it accurately reflects the situation in Iraq.

"If I got my news from the newspapers also, I'd be pretty depressed as well," Powell replied. "Those of us who've actually had a chance to get out and go on patrols and meet the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police and go on patrols with them, we are very satisfied with the way things are going here."

"It's the tension about whether a reporter covering the war is supposed to be a patriot or a cheerleader, or just a reporter," said Daniel Hallin, the author of "The `Uncensored War': The Media and Vietnam," and a communication professor at the University of California, San Diego.

Hallin and other researchers who've studied media coverage of the Vietnam War dispute suggestions that negative news stories turned public opinion against the war. Clarence Wyatt, the author of "Paper Soldiers: The American Press and the Vietnam War" and a professor at Centre College in Danville, Ky., said war support declined almost in direct correlation to the number of casualties and the number of troops deployed.

"News coverage is one element among a whole solar system of elements that shapes how people react to public events," Wyatt said. "It doesn't take a news organization to tell you that your son or daughter or husband or wife has been deployed. It doesn't take a news organization to tell you that the kid who used to deliver your newspaper is now in the local cemetery."

Media experts note that the journalist's job is to report what's happening and why, not to rally support, and that news judgment requires assessing which facts are most important. If schools are being rebuilt, that's a news story, but if the society they're in is being blown apart by civil war, that's a bigger news story.

"If events go well, that's what you report. If things are going poorly, that's the reality," said GWU professor Livingston, who's lectured at the National War College. "If bombs blow up and bombs kill Marines and kill soldiers, that's an important story, and covering that is not bias."

"That's the nature of journalism. And it's the nature of combat," Wyatt said. "To criticize the media for covering combat in wartime is like criticizing the sun for coming up.
I agree with this post, but keep this in mind...

The majority, if not all, of the people on this forum are more informed than the general public(aka - Joe Sixpack).

We(forum members) can see through any media bias and form our own opinions(although the obsevations have disagreements within themselves). The public, in general, doesn't have the motivation nor the inclination to look deeper into a story, and therefore believe what they hear or see on the surface.

Depending on the source, one can manipulate the data to make the war in Iraq seem like a piece of cake, or to make it sound like an unwinnable situation.

I usually go with the adage from a journalist(sometimes attributed to Geraldo Rivera)..."No one reports on the building that ISN'T on fire". I particularly like this exchange in the source...

Army Capt. Sherman Powell reinforced that view with his comments during an interview Wednesday with "Today" show host Matt Lauer in Baghdad. Lauer wondered how troop morale could be so high, given the problems in Iraq.

"If I got my news from the newspapers also, I'd be pretty depressed as well," Powell replied. "Those of us who've actually had a chance to get out and go on patrols and meet the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police and go on patrols with them, we are very satisfied with the way things are going here."

I'll take the word of someone who has been there over a "talking head"...

That leads me to believe that there is alot more good going on that isn't reported, not because is isn't important, but because it won't help the ratings, which is what all of the media is concerned about anyway.

Jen and Brad's breakup gets more attention than a Rumsfeld press conference...that tells you all you need to know about our society...
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I agree with cnredd, ask a journalist to cover a hospital opening or 3 marines getting killed in a roadside blast is liking asking a lion if he wants salad or steak for dinner, but the question you have to ask is this; is a school opening 8,000 miles away news? I don't think so, yet the death of 3 citizens and indeed soldiers of your own country is relevant to the public, i.e. they care about it.

The simple fact is, the insurgency in Iraq is as violent as it has ever been, there are bombings almost daily and to ignore these matters would be a dereliction of duty. And a lot of the problems in Iraq are traceable to decisions made by the Bush Administration. There were numerous alternatives to the handling of the post-war situation, but instead a blind adherence to ideology was the way the neo-cons in the pentagon chose to formulate the strategy to win the peace. This policy has failed miserably and is still being applied to this very day.

Convictions are good in a leader, but so is knowing when a plan has failed, and formulating new strategies is just as important. Bush claims his on the ground commanders are happy with the situation, yet they themselves are clamouring for more troops. And then their is the new Iraqi army, 150,000 strong and growing. Yet these troops are simply footsoldiers, there is no command structure, they have no recruitment capabilities or planning capabilities, sub-standard equipment, barracks, and other vital infrastructure, yet the administration sticks to the numbers as if this was all that mattered. Well coalition forces took Iraq with less than 150,000 troops, would the Iraqi army be capable of such a feat, yet we are to believe they can secure Iraq, something the greatest military in the world, with near unlimited resouces has been unable to do without a lot more boots on the ground, and then you argue that the reason for this is the New York Times!!! (no-one did yet, but I'm just saying...)
I posted this earlier...

The majority, if not all, of the people on this forum are more informed than the general public(aka - Joe Sixpack).

I feel the need to point out that there are exceptions to this rule....
Were you talking about the quote fro GySgt or my post? He sounded a bit like Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter. A good theory I heard is that the reason people think Fox News is conservative is because the mainstream media is so liberal, I like this theory but I think it needs a little tinkering, heres my take:

The reason there is a conception of a liberal media is because Fox News is so conservative and people think (I'm sure somewhere) that it is Fair and Balanced, Sean Hannity makes sense, Alan Colmes is a liberal (if Alan Colmes is a liberal then their is a liberal bias in the media) and Bill O'Reilly is an independent.

In an interesting side note, O Reillys book "Whos Looking Out For You" was dedicated to Roger Ailes. If you watch the infamous Franken/O Reilly fight on C-Span I always found it hilarious that the answer to his book was sitting right next to him. In the 'debate' they have Molly Ivins kicks his ass and then Franken shows Bill up by telling the story of his wifes upbringing which would have been 100 times harder under the ideology of personal responsibility and "Government can't help you" O'Reilly was spouting.
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