Editors Ink

A place to examine language and the state of journalism. And anything else that comes to mind.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

If giving an honest account of a war too difficult, then why bother going? You can bet the foreign press is telling what it's like, and a handful of reporters scattered throughout the US media is, too. But it is too often lost in the noise about the spectacular "successes" of the war.

Isn't continuing to use military terminology--i.e., IEDs instead of "bombs" just cluttering up the matter?

While we're at it, for the sake of all of us, including the soldiers, isn't it time to quit calling all of them heroes? This labeling started Sept.11, with the fire fighters and police, and continues to this day. What happens when they must confront the fact that they don't feel heroic, that their actions aren't always heroic, and in fact, some of it is downright despicable?

War Reporting Censored...by the reporters

Many media outlets have self-censored their reporting on the conflict in Iraq because of concern about public reaction to graphic images and details about the war. Many journalists said vigorous discussions about what, how and where to publish were conducted, in an attempt to balance fair reporting with audience sensitivities.

In addition, journalists used their Internet sites to post material different from what was printed in newspapers or broadcast on TV or radio programs. Nearly one-third of news outlets used their Web sites to disseminate materials online that were not first published or broadcast elsewhere by the organization. In most cases reporters and editors posted additional information online such as photographic essays, extended interviews and behind-the-scenes reporter accounts.

These are some of the conclusions from research conducted by American University School of Communication professors MJ Bear and Jane Hall. More than 200 American and international journalists completed the anonymous, online survey in September and October 2004.

Journalists were asked about coverage from March 2003 through September 2004. While the research covered events from the beginning of the conflict through the first 15 months of the occupation, it focused primarily on decision-making during major events such as the release of the Abu Ghraib prison photographs and the images showing the deaths of four American contractors in Fallujah.


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