Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime

Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime

Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime

Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime

Synopsis

Reporting War explores the social responsibilities of the journalist during times of military conflict. News media treatments of international crises, especially the one underway in Iraq, are increasingly becoming the subject of public controversy, and discussion is urgently needed.Each of this book's contributors challenges familiar assumptions about war reporting from a distinctive perspective. An array of pressing issues associated with conflicts over recent years are identified and critiqued, always with an eye to what they can tell us about improving journalism today.Special attention is devoted to recent changes in journalistic forms and practices, and the ways in which they are shaping the visual culture of war, and issues discussed, amongst many, include:* the influence of censorship and propaganda* 'us' and 'them' news narratives* access to sources* '24/7 rolling news' and the 'CNN effect'* military jargon (such as 'friendly fire' and 'collateral damage')* 'embedded' and 'unilateral' reporters* tensions between objectivity and patriotism.The book raises important questions about the very future of journalism during wartime, questions which demand public dialogue and debate, and is essential reading for students taking courses in news and news journalism, as well as for researchers, teachers and practitioners in the field.

Excerpt

Stuart Allan and Barbie Zelizer

The principles of reporting are put to a severe test when your nation goes to war. To whom are you true? To the principles of abstract truth, or to those running the war machine; to a frightened or perhaps belligerent population, to the decisions of the elected representatives in a democracy, to the exclusion of the dissenting minorities, to the young men and women who have agreed to put their lives at risk on the front-line? Or are you true to a wider principle of reasoning and questioning, asking why they must face this risk? Let me put the question with stark simplicity: when does a reporter sacrifice the principle of the whole truth to the need to win the war?

Kate Adie, BBC war correspondent

"The very nature of war," Kate Adie (1998) once observed, "confuses the role of the journalist" (1998:44). Confronted with the often horrific realities of conflict, any belief that the journalist can remain distant, remote, or unaffected by what is happening "tends to go out the window" in a hurry. Nevertheless Adie, at the time the BBC's chief news correspondent, offered no simple definition of what the role of the journalist should be "when faced with the consequences of battle and the muddle of war," admitting instead that "I don't have the answers, but I keep on asking questions" (Adie 1998:54).

War reporting, as Adie's comments suggest, constitutes a litmus test of sorts for journalism more broadly. While the role of war correspondent has long been associated with a certain romantic lore, in actuality it is beset by an array of problems associated with allegiance, responsibility, truth, and balance. Such problems arise from time to time in the daily implementation of ordinary, everyday modes of journalism, of course, but their apparent lack of easy resolvability in wartime poses challenges that raise questions about the practice of journalism in more forms than just reporting war. "We knew we were placing ourselves in the bull's eye of a war," commented John Burns, chief foreign correspondent for The New York Times, about the Iraqi conflict. "And I don't think a journalist can sensibly claim to have an exemption in a war zone. [By] the very nature of what's about to

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