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The Importance Of Journalism Essay

1329 words - 6 pages

"You cannot wage a war without rumors, without media, without propaganda. Any military planner who plans a war, and doesn't put media, propaganda on top of his agenda, is a bad military," says Al Jazeera senior producer, Samir Khader.
In wars, image assumes iconic status. The coverage of the bombing of Baghdad during the first Persian Gulf War put CNN on the media map. Today, the spread of digital technology means that an image can be distributed worldwide within seconds. But are we better informed?
‘You've got to see it to believe it' but should Americans really trust their eyes?
The complexity of war coverage in the news and press media - does America really get the full picture from ...view middle of the document...

Despite this magnitude of information, America may not be any better informed.

The nature of war journalism has also changed; the Iraq war has introduced the concept of the ‘embedded reporter' to the world. Journalists have unprecedented access, and with the aid of new technologies (such as the video phone, satellite and broadband) news reporters can air slices of the action from the front line within seconds of events unfolding. The idea however comes from the PR industry and while it breeds closeness and understanding between the military and media, this bias is often reflected in press reports. It is therefore often referred to as ‘propagandas journalism'.

An example of embedded reporting and the control of image through the media is shown in the documentary Control Room, about the Middle East news agency Al-Jazeera that has been accused repeatedly by U.S. officials of being "pro-Saddam".
For instance footage shows the fall of the Sadam statue, which has been presented in the US media as an iconic image of the war. Yet in reality even a quick glance of the long-shot photo shows something more akin to a carefully constructed media event tailored for the television cameras.

The senior producer Samir Khader, says that propaganda is an essential in war and the documentary shows how it is a weapon employed by both sides. Therefore neither the US nor the Arabic world are getting the same information about "the truth". The key difference is that Al-Jaazera reporters admit their biases, and do not claim to be ‘balanced and fair'.

The real problem according to George Will political commentator at ABC "is live television from journalists with units engaged in Iraq is the problem of context". Further hindering this problem is the long term decline of foreign coverage in American newspapers, primarily due to the high cost of reporting and dwindling audience interest. A Pew survey reported by International Woman's Media Foundation in August 2002, shows that sixty-five percent of those with "moderate or low interest in international news" say they don't follow international news because they lack the necessary background information.

Control Room also shows how the media is controlled through non information. For instance the Jessica Lynch rescue, a human interest story and PR icon; and infamous deck of cards, both used as distractions from the leads of the massacre in Fallujah, and the taking of Bagdad. Press Officer for the US military Lt. Rushing therefore, thinks part of his mission is to educate the American public on the reality of war. "War in America has its own branding it's the American flag…... But Americans need to be aware of the consequences."

James Rainey author of the report, "Unseen Pictures, Untold Stories" in the LA Times conducted a review of six prominent U.S...

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