Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime

Article excerpt

* Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime. Stuart Allan and Barbie Zelizer, eds. London: Routledge, 2004. 448 pp. $105.00 hbk. $29.95 pbk.

Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime examines the forms and practices of war reporting in conflicts since 1990, including the current war in Iraq. The book brings together twenty-three scholars from Australian, British, Israeli, and U.S. universities to explore how the nature of war has changed and how these changes affect the reporting of war. The chapters include analyses of the coverage of recent wars in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Africa, as well as more detailed examination of how the current Iraq War was reported from various national and regional perspectives.

Co-editors of Reporting War are Stuart Allan, reader in the School of Cultural Studies, University of the West of England, and Barbie Zelizer, the Raymond Williams Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. Their recent publications include Allan's News Culture in 2004 and Zelizer's Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera's Eye in 1998. Together they edited Journalism after 9/11 in 2002.

The well-written and carefully edited chapters of Reporting War are organized into three sections: "War in the Twentyfirst Century," "Bearing Witness," and "Reporting the Iraq War." In the first article of Part 1, Oliver Boyd-Barrett argues that because the news media have failed to provide links between different wars over time, war reporting misinforms and obfuscates, with the result that the media serve merely as propaganda instruments for the United States and Great Britain in imposing their economic and political models on the world. In his chapter on information warfare, Richard Keeble exposes the lies and the misinformation in order to "help put a brake on [the] US/UK military juggernaut." Keeble maintains that the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the current Iraq War were really not wars at all but myths manufactured to sustain the military industrial complexes of the two nations. Susan Moeller worries that in its war on terror the Bush administration has substituted its moral rhetoric, "if-you're-not-with-usyou're-against-us," for the moral imagination of concern for the plight of human suffering and the protection of human rights.

Barbie Zelizer's essay on the prominence of visual images in war reporting begins Part 2, "Bearing Witness." War photography tends to produce aesthetically pleasing, familiar images evocative of earlier wars, but such symbols distract the public from seeing "the important visual aspects of each individual war. …