Thursday, June 07, 2007

TCS Daily - Journalists, You're in the Army Now

TCS Daily - Journalists, You're in the Army Now:
"The days of the independent, neutral war correspondent, objectively reporting from a war's front lines, are quickly coming to an end. In the future, a war correspondent will either effectively be a soldier for one faction of a conflict, or he will literally not survive in the war zone.

In today's media age, the requirement for combatants to shape perceptions about the nature of a conflict, and the necessity of denying that ability to the enemy, are more crucial than firepower and logistics, the traditional measures of battlefield dominance. Successful media operations energize a faction's supporters and demoralize its enemies. When effective, this is more important than squadrons of fighter-bombers or train-loads of assault rifles. Whether they like or not, journalists are in the army now."
An interesting article... Since March 2003, 181 journalists have been killed in Iraq, a significant number of which are Iraqi employees of major news outlets. Much has been written (with a certain amount of justification) about journalists being part of the stories they cover. In Iraq, it may be the only way to survive outside of being embedded with a US unit, which is not necessarily an option open to the journalists most at risk in Iraq.

We have already seen how the traditional rules governing the conduct of war (see the Hague and Geneva Conventions) are changing. Are journalists now "legitimate" targets? Who is next? Medical personnel?

2 comments:

Michael Kruse said...

Interesting story. To some degree the idea of the "objective" journalist never existed in reality. Maybe this is another outworking of moving into postmodernism.

Denis Hancock said...

It's got to be a delicate line the journalists walk. WWII correspondents never seemed to forget that they were Americans, yet managed to report the news to the folks at home.

Now we have journalists who say, with pride, that they would not warn an American patrol that they were going into danger because it would compromise their "objectivity".

[parody]
June 5, 1944. This is AP reporter Jones reporting from the docks at Southampton where there is a flurry of activity. Men are packed like sardines in landing craft, and we have learned that tomorrow's landing will be spread out of several miles of the Normandy coastline. As for the activity near the Pas de Calais, it now has been confirmed to be nothing more than a feint to draw the Axis forces away from the true landing site. This is AP reporter Jones, signing off.
[/parody]

And then there is the clumsy Photoshopping that characterizes much of the "outsourced" journalism in the Middle East. Ask Reuters why one of their most prolific photographers no longer works for them.

Journalism has not done itself proud lately, and at some point the pendulum will have to swing back to true objectivity.