War and the Role of the Mass Media: Changing Technology and a New Kind of War for the United States Present Both the U.S. Military and News Reporters with New Challenges and Ethical Dilemmas. (Nation: The Press)

By Waller, J. Michael | Insight on the News, November 26, 2001 | Go to article overview

War and the Role of the Mass Media: Changing Technology and a New Kind of War for the United States Present Both the U.S. Military and News Reporters with New Challenges and Ethical Dilemmas. (Nation: The Press)


Waller, J. Michael, Insight on the News


Major news organizations apparently expected to cover Operation Enduring Freedom as they covered Desert Storm a decade ago -- still fighting the last war -- with camera crews and klieg lights in the faces of bewildered Marines and their own star reporters competing to be used as transmission belts for enemy propaganda. Never mind that the nature of the war in Afghanistan and of the broader war on terrorism is radically different from wars of the past.

Some in the big media still view the U.S. military as they did during the Vietnam War: with undue suspicion or even hostility. At a recent Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism forum, ABC News President David Weston spoke sadly of the thousands of innocent civilians who died in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks but conspicuously failed even to mention those who were killed that day in the Pentagon. A student challenged Weston, "Do you believe the Pentagon was a legitimate military target?" The ABC News chief seemed surprised: "The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don't have an opinion on that and it's important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now." He since has issued a national apology for such unfeeling remarks.

Yet Weston's gut response echoes what others have said in the past. On a 1989 PBS program on "Ethics in America,'' a Harvard University professor asked Peter Jennings of ABC's World News Tonight and Mike Wallace of CBS's 60 Minutes what they would do if they were covering a war and traveling with enemy forces who were about to attack and kill American troops. Wallace firmly stated that he would make no attempt to save American lives and "would regard it simply as another story that they are there to cover." The host asked, "Don't you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?" Wallace didn't flinch, responding, "No, you have a higher duty ... you're a reporter." That convinced news reader Peter Jennings, who conceded, "I think he's right, too." Getting sensational video footage of the killings of American troops would be more important than trying to save their lives.

According to a Media Research Center account, Wallace seemed mystified at the idea of being Americans first" and "journalists second." He countered, "What in the world is wrong with photographing this attack ... on American soldiers?"

National Public Radio (NPR), which has sniped at Operation Enduring Freedom from the beginning, has 13 reporters in and around Afghanistan and the Middle East. They are under standing orders from their editors to find and expose any U.S. military presence. "The game of reporting is to smoke 'em out" NPR Senior Foreign Editor Loren Jenkins said in a recent interview. What would he expect his correspondents to do if they found a secret special-operations team about to strike at the terrorists? "You report it," says Jenkins. "I don't represent the government."

Not all journalists covering the war take the cynical view of Jennings, Wallace and Jenkins. "Overall, the war coverage has been much better than I thought it would be" says Brent Baker of the Media Research Center, who has been monitoring press coverage of the war. "Most reporters have been very restrained and respected rules and not endangered the military."

When Clark Hoyt, Washington bureau chief of the 32-newspaper Knight Ridder chain, learned of the first super-secret commando operations into Afghanistan in September, he called the Pentagon for comment. An official there told him that publication of the story "would endanger the lives of the servicemen involved and compromise any chances of success." For Hoyt, it was a no-brainer. He sat on the story.

Forty other journalists from 17 news organizations -- including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN and, yes, even ABC -- knew that an early-October U. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

War and the Role of the Mass Media: Changing Technology and a New Kind of War for the United States Present Both the U.S. Military and News Reporters with New Challenges and Ethical Dilemmas. (Nation: The Press)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.