Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Atrocities on the Innocent = Ratings.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Atrocities on the Innocent = Ratings.

John R. Macarthur’s “Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War” mentions the corrupt behavior imposed on innocent civilians during wars. Women were mutilated, or raped like Belgian girls.

Al though it is no secret that being an innocent bystander can still put someone in danger, it is ethically incorrect for a journalist to not write stories from sources who do not give important details including last names, contact information, and an address. As a journalist, one must stick to several
key principles in order to not lose credibility as a source of informing the public.

At the time of the Gulf War, a 15 year old volunteer in Kuwait known as “Nayirah,” told the press that Iraqi soldiers were pulling infants out of incubators, and then letting them die on the floor. (Page 58) The severity of the story, made it important to not forget any details that could lead to chaos, and possibly cost the career of the journalist, and reputation of the newspaper or publication company.

As several had speculated, it turns out that the story was fabricated, and the hospital volunteer worker was actually the daughter of Kuwait Royalty.

Chapter 2 of Macarthur's book also mentions how one reporter wrote a story that lists a source who went by the name "Cindy" and did not give away any other information including their last name, age, or address.

As a student whose written for journalism courses, I was always advised not to use sources or quote individuals that were not willing to give out their last name or contact information (to check accuracy of their story or arrange a future interview) because it is difficult to determine the "truth" behind their story.

No matter how much attention a story may receive for the content it contains, one should not focus solely on the "newsworthyness" of a story, because it will give them special recognition. It is worse to later find out that a previous controversial story was nothing but a series of lies or speculation, written for the purpose of making the "bad guy" appear much worse than they already do to the enemy overseas.

1 Comments:

Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post. Why didn't these journalists insist on more information about the source of that story? --She was testifying before congressmen at a panel that included Amnesty International. Can you see why that would lend crediblity to her story? What was the explanation for maintaining her anonymity? --If here identity was disclosed then her family would be in danger. Can you see how that would persuade many journalists to use the story with out further verification? In retrospect it is easy to say they should have but hard to say if many journalists would have done otherwise.

4/20/2009 10:44 PM  

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