Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Hotel Warriors Chap. 6 War with no witnesses

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hotel Warriors Chap. 6 War with no witnesses

In this chapter the role of newspaper reporters is discussed and what their limitations should be. It appears that the military doesn't want any first hand knowledge to be released without its approval. This is evident by reading page 56 last paragraph, " 15 U.S. and Saudi military police officers descended upon him. He was handcuffed, beaten, and had one of his cameras smashed as he stood his ground, insisting he was an accredited U.S. journalist and had every right to be there. " This reporter was also seen by a Saudi official who would have escorted him, but was again denied access by military police.
Another problem would occur when a " reporter saw something that might endanger the career of a commander. "(page 58 ) Now how could a reporter endanger a commanders career unless something was done that should not have been, such as a criminal act or disobeying orders from a superior. Reporters didn't like the idea of having their story held for several days, the way the military would. The military did this in hopes of making it old news, something people may not pay to much interest to. The military would also censor some of its horrible images so that the public would not have to see it thereby continuing to give support to the war.
The military also felt that if it did have to take reporters with them " have some experience in covering military matters.... It shouldn't be amateur night at the follies as far as combat correspondent are concerned." (page 61) It also appears that the military has public support when it come to the involvement of the media, that they just get in the way of what the military has to do.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

There is an inherent conflict of interest between the needs of the military for operational security and the needs of a democracy for factual reporting from the front. There are of course reporters who don't follow the guidelines laid out by their military handlers and the Pentagon. The military is forced to accomodate the press because we are a democracy and the public does have a right to know as much as possible if it does not betray information that could endanger our troops or compromise operational security. Excesses of censorship need to be exposed and stopped. Journalistic excesses should also be criticized.
The point about "amateur night" is well taken. Professional, experienced war correspondents know the limits of what they can report. Amateurs can endanger themselves and the military personnel they accompany.

The public does have a high tolerence for censorship during wartime and the military makes the most of that. This puts the media on the defensive during the war and makes it difficult for them to overtly criticize the measures that the Department of Defense takes to limit their activities. This book makes that painfully clear. After the war the stories of how the military corralled the press come out as the media attempts to force greater openness for the next conflict.

4/05/2006 10:39 PM  

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