Barbara Korte
Represented Reporters
Images of War Correspondents in Memoirs and Fiction
December 2008, 188 p., 26,80 €, ISBN 978-3-8376-1062-8
War correspondents are prominent actors in the media world. They took hold
in the cultural imaginary soon after their profession had been created in the
mid-19th century. With a particular focus on Britain, this study investigates
the representation of war correspondents fromVictorian times to the present,
in memoirs, novels and films. Such representations react to prevailing no-
tions that exist about war reporters and participate in their further construc-
tion. With its cultural approach, this book complements studies of war corres-
pondents in media and communication studies, history and ethnology.
Barbara Korte (Prof. Dr.) teaches English Literature and Culture at the Uni-
versity of Freiburg.
For further information:

© 2008 transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, Germany
2008-11-17 15-19-51 --- Projekt: transcript.anzeigen / Dokument: FAX ID 016e194833886688|(S. 1 ) VOR1062.p 194833886704
Chapter 1: War Correspondents in Action and Pepresentation
War Correspondents as an Object oI Cultural Interest
and Cultural Studies
The Represented Reporter
Chapter Overview

Chapter 2: War Correspondents in the FieId
PerIorming the War Correspondent
PerIormance, Habitus and Fields oI Action
Role Conceptions
The Media. Technologies and InIrastructure
Politics and the Military
Individual War Scenarios and Individual Actors

Chapter 3: Setting the Trend.
Pepresentations of the CoIden Age
SelI-Representations. The War Correspondent as Adventurer
Victorian War Correspondents in Fictional Representation.
Doyle and Kipling

Chapter 4: Crises and Pe-Assertions.
From the First WorId War to the FaIkIands
An Image in Decay
Restoring the SelI-Image
New Icons and a Parody. Evelyn Waugh`s Scoop
Heroes Once More. The Correspondents oI the Second World War
The Quiet American. Detachment and Engagement in a Foreign War
Vietnam and Beyond.
Correspondents in War and Anti-War Films oI the 1980s
A Century oI Changing Images

Chapter 5: 1ºº0s to Present.
The hedia in War from CuIf to CuIf
New Cultural Awareness oI War Correspondents
Pooled and Fooled? Representing Reporters oI the First GulI War
Reporting the Civil Wars in Former Yugoslavia
Representing Correspondents in the War on Terror
War Correspondents and Gender PerIormance
A New Golden Age?

Chapter 6: ConcIusion.
0rawing Some Threads Together



»To me it has always seemed that the day a
newspaper man receives his commission as a
war correspondent, he has won the Victoria
Cross oI journalism; and iI he has it in him his
Iootsteps henceIorth may move amidst the
Iootprints oI the mighty, Ior his work will take
him amongst great men and greater deeds«
(A.G. Hales 1901, 205).

»It always used to irritate me to hear journalists
reIerring to real incidents in the lives oI real
people as ·stories·, with all the connotations
which the word brings with it: dramatic incident,
neatly rounded narrative, a satisIying ending.
Gradually, though, I came to realize that the
most important Iunction people like me could
perIorm was indeed to tell stories: not in the
sense oI making up comIortable lies to keep the
viewers happy, but oI providing an accurate
digestible way to make sense oI the conIusion
and apparent chaos oI everyday liIe«
(John Simpson 2002, 95).

War Correspondents as an Dbject of CuI turaI
I nterest and CuI turaI Studi es

The epigraphs to this chapter were written by war journalists to describe
their proIessional activity, and the texts Irom which they are taken were
published to serve an apparent interest oI the general public. At the time
oI writing, there is no doubt that this interest in correspondents and their
practice is as intense as it was in the Iinal decades oI the 19th century,
the so-called Golden Age oI war corresponding. It has been at a high
level since the 1990s, when the GulI War and the civil wars in Iormer
Yugoslavia brought war reporters once more to the public`s attention; the
war in Iraq in 2003 involved correspondents in a manner that brought
this attention to a new climax. It seems as iI the omnipresence oI war in
today`s news media has even increased their traditional signiIicance as
»essential contributors to the public understanding« oI war (Tumber/
Webster 2006, 166). Some conIlicts oI the recent past, such as the GulI
War oI 1991 and the war in Kosovo, have been characterised as ·techno·,
·video· and ·virtual· wars Iought with long-distance weapons and per-
ceived through long-distance media,
but such circumstances have not
rendered war correspondents obsolete. Quite on the contrary: As audi-
ences are Ilooded with images oI war, the mediation oI these images
through a correspondent, an actual human presence at the actual site oI
war, appears to gain particular importance. AIter all, only a human being
involved with body and mind, with senses, intellect, memory, emotions
and conscience, can IulIil what Greg McLaughlin (2002, 3I.) deems the
central Iunction oI war journalism: »to make sense oI war«, to make »us
think about a conIlict in terms oI history, context and the human cost.«
This basic cultural Iunction oI presenting and explaining war(s) to a
wide audience has been a constant in war reporting since its origins in the
19th century, but oI course there have been signiIicant changes as well,
caused by developments both in the media and the conduct oI war, and
these changes have had consequences Ior the public perception oI war
correspondents. The war in Iraq, Ior instance, added new Iacets to the
popular image oI war reporters as ·embeds· accompanied troops into the
battle zone and Ireelancers ventured into dangerous terrain without mili-
tary protection both types oI correspondents were equipped with state-
oI-the-art communication technology that made instant transmission pos-
sible. The war reporter in ·live action· has thus become a Iamiliar pres-
ence on television: in Iront, or even in the middle oI a live war scenario,
exposed to the likelihood oI being injured or killed under both enemy
and Iriendly Iire.
Even apart Irom the current topicality oI war correspondents it is
hardly surprising that they should receive widespread attention. In me-
diatised societies, awareness oI the actors, institutions and Iorms that
shape people`s perception oI the world seems a natural phenomenon and
is not restricted to journalists that cover war. As soon as the press de-
veloped into a system oI mass communication in the course oI the 19th
century, its actors and practices became the object not only oI selI-

1 It is this new technological side oI warIare and its mediation which is at the
core oI major academic studies about recent wars, such as Baudrillard
(1991) on the GulI War and IgnatieII (2000) on the war in Kosovo.
reIlection within the medium but also oI broader cultural scrutiny and
Iascination. By the end oI the century, short stories and novels about
journalists and newspaper culture in general were published in great
numbers in Britain and the United States, that is, the leading newspaper
nations oI their day. These narratives addressed an audience interested in
all aspects oI the proIession, Irom ethical considerations to the intricacies
oI news communication.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, journalists have
continued to appear as major and minor characters in Iiction and some
plays such as the widely known Front Page (1928) by Ben Hecht and
Charles MacArthur and above all in Iilm and television, including
1970s movies and series such as All the Presiaents Men, Network and
Lou Grant, or the more recent Gooa Night, ana Gooa Luck (2005) and
Woody Allen`s Scoop (2006). All these representations engage with their
respective time`s conception oI journalism and, in a wider sense, the
role(s) which the media play Ior the (selI-)understanding oI modern and
postmodern cultures.

How the media and their protagonists are perceived by the public and
represented by the culture industries thus concerns not only media the-
orists and practitioners, but is also oI relevance to cultural studies. It is in
this area that the present study situates itselI, with a Iocus on war cor-
responding as a branch oI journalism with a particular visibility and a
distinct cultural impact. Based on the elementary premise oI cultural
studies that all notions oI identities images oI selI and images oI others
are engendered by and circulated through representations,
this book

2 Rudyard Kipling, a writer with considerable journalistic experience himselI
and greatly popular Ior his short stories, published several stories with re-
porters as characters during the 1890s. Kipling`s story »A Matter oI Fact«
(1892), Ior instance, Iocuses on three newspapermen Irom Britain, South
AIrica and America who Iind themselves conIronted with marvellous sea
serpents and a dilemma as to how the extraordinary encounter can be
covered in a medium devoted to Iacts.
3 Measured against this cultural signiIicance, the representation oI journalists
in literature and Iilm has received comparatively little scholarly attention.
See, however, Jacobi (1989) on journalists in German literature oI the
1920s, Good (1986) on the image oI journalists in American Iiction be-
tween 1890 and 1930, and Engesser (2005) who compares the image oI
journalists in literary bestsellers (Irom Germany, the US and Britain) to
empirical results oI communication studies. Lutes (2006) investigates the
image oI women journalists in American Iiction.
4 In British Cultural Studies, the multiple relationships between the Iorma-
tion oI identities and representation have been conIigured in the inIluential
model oI the so-called »circuit oI culture« by the Open University team
around Paul du Gay and Stuart Hall (du Gay et al., 1997, 3).
investigates media products oI diIIerent periods that present war corre-
spondents and are directed at a general audience. As Martin Bell writes at
the beginning oI one oI his memoirs: »It is a book about journalism but
not only Ior journalists. It is intended to interest real people« (Bell 1995,
1). It is assumed that such and other kinds oI representations Ior ·real
people· reproduce and react to prevailing notions oI correspondents and,
at the same time, participate in the Iurther construction oI the war re-
porter`s cultural image. With its speciIic Iocus on representation(s), the
book is a complement to studies oI war correspondents in other academic
Iields: Irom media and communication studies
to history
and ethnol-

War corresponding is a particularly rewarding Iorm oI journalism Ior
the kind oI cultural analysis intended here. As we have seen, war cor-
respondents enjoy particular cultural attention (and have thus Irequently
become the object oI cultural representation), not only because oI the
charisma that has Iormed around their proIession, but also because their
proIessional interest is oI high cultural relevance per se: As a situation oI
national and/or international crisis, a war may directly concern audiences
and arouse intellectual and emotional responses even where an audi-
ence`s nation is not immediately involved. Wars certainly put special
demands and pressures on those who cover them: War reporters are con-
Ironted with atrocities that arouse their Ieelings and stir their conscience
while their proIessional ethos obliges them to do justice to the Iacts.
They have to decide how Iar they can go when showing crimes against

5 See in particular Greg McLaughlin`s comprehensive study The War Corre-
sponaent (2002). Since the 1990s, it has become common Ior journalists
and academics in media studies to exchange their opinions on reporting
war. See, Ior instance, the volume edited by Allan/Zelizer (2004), which
was occasioned by the war in Iraq but also includes general articles on war
6 Daniel (2006a) is a pioneering volume comprising articles on correspon-
dents in diIIerent wars and Irom diIIerent countries. In the 1990s military
historians began to re-evaluate the reporting oI historical wars; see the
series ·The War Correspondents· (published by Alan Sutton), with volumes
dedicated, among others, to the Crimean War (Lambert/Badsey 1994) and
the South AIrican War (Sibbald 1993).
7 Pedelty (1995) presents an ethnography oI the international press corps in
El Salvador. He conducted his research on the premise that reporters are »a
community in and oI themselves. They work together, play together, and
oIten, live together. They share an integrated set oI myths, rituals, and be-
havioral norms. They are, in short, a culture as coherent as any in the
postmodern world« (4).
humanity (a central question oI media ethics in general). War reporters
also stand between their audiences` need to be inIormed and attempts by
those in power to control the inIormation Ilow. Not least, they have to
deal with the dilemma that, despite all atrocities, a war may be proIitable
Ior them because it is ·big· news and can make a correspondent Iamous.
Furthermore, reporting a war may entail an exciting personal experience
and opportunities Ior adventure. OI the various actors in the news media,
war correspondents have thus always been perceived as a group oI their
own, as ·special· correspondents indeed whose proIession is imbued with
an aura more intense than that oI ordinary, day-to-day journalism. In the
Iirst epigraph to this chapter, the late-Victorian correspondent A.G. Hales
speaks oI the Victoria Cross variety oI journalism, and a more recent as-
sessment echoes this sentiment:

»War journalists are thought to do what all journalists do, only in a more
heightened, vibrantly important Iashion. To cover the story will entail, more
likely than not, encountering conditions oI an entirely diIIerent order than any-
thing ordinarily associated with newswork. Images oI the war reporter as ad-
venturer or risk-taker, in the optimum sense, or as dare-devil, Iortune-hunter, or
rogue, in the negative, help to Iuel their celebration in novels, Iilms, plays, and
other Iictional treatments. Similarly implicit here, however, is the notion that
war reporters somehow ·do journalism· better, that their experiences are more
authentic, engaged, and noteworthy than those oI other kinds oI journalists.
|...| Journalists are expected to Iunction variously during war: to be present
enough to respond to what is happening, yet absent enough to stay saIe; to be
suIIiciently authoritative so as to provide reliable inIormation, yet open to
cracks and Iissures in the complicated truth-claims that unIold; to remain pas-
sionate about the undermining oI human dignity that accompanies war, yet im-
partial and distanced enough to see the strategies that attach themselves to cir-
cumstances with always more than one side. In these and related ways, then,
war reporting reveals its investment in sustaining a certain discursive authority
namely that oI being an eyewitness« (Allan/Zelizer 2004, 4I.).

As an ·outstanding· kind oI journalists, war correspondents took hold in
the cultural imaginary very soon aIter their proIession had been created
in the mid-19th century.
Almost instantly the proIession generated

8 BeIore war reporting in the modern understanding, that is, by proIessional
journalists, the press oIten employed oIIicers to report on wars: »BeIore the
Crimea, British editors either stole war news Irom Ioreign newspapers or
employed junior oIIicers to send letters Irom the battleIront, a most unsatis-
Iactory arrangement. For not only were these soldier-correspondents highly
selective in what they wrote, regarding themselves Iirst as soldiers and then
as correspondents; they also understood little oI the workings oI news-
myths and celebrities such as William Russell oI The Times, the alleged
·Iather· oI the trade, and his later rival Archibald Forbes. The illustrious
line continues, among others, with Winston Churchill, a dashing hero oI
the South AIrican War. The major conIlicts oI the 20th century also had
their iconic reporters: Philip Gibbs Ior the First World War, the writer-
reporters and photographers oI the Spanish Civil War (with Ernest
Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn and Robert Capa in the Irontline), Ernie
Pyle and Alan Moorehead during the Second World War, or James
Cameron, David Halberstam and Michael Herr in Vietnam. The televised
wars oI the late 20th century established the war correspondent as a vis-
ible cultural presence, and in the age oI 24/7 news, war correspondents
are more than ever Iigures oI popular interest and household names, such
as Peter Arnett and Christiane Amanpour oI CNN, or Kate Adie and John
Simpson oI the BBC.
The stardom oI these recent correspondents is not Iully explained by
visual presence alone. It is also encouraged by the tendency in today`s
commercially oriented news media to oIIer inIotainment and ·human
interest· apart Irom Iacts. As Kate Adie observes in The Kinaness of
Strangers, this is a development which pushes the correspondent him- or
herselI to the Iore and personalises the act oI reporting Ior the audience:

»And iI economic proIitability and the biggest audience are deemed to rule the
roost, then perhaps the perIormance oI the reporter needs a little ·attention·. II
the audience is interested in individuals, then the reporter`s included in that
game. Facts, please; but how do you Ieel, the one watching events on our be-
halI? A string oI vivid adjectives, a catch in the voice, a shake oI the head. It
does not take long Ior the idea to catch on that reporting is bereIt oI authenticity
iI the reporter`s heart Iails to be in the story, preIerably in view on the sleeve.
Sentiment stirs the crowd.
It`s a step towards the ·inIotainment· world, where the pill oI Iact has to be
sugared by a perIormance. Reporting in particular on television always has
a narcissistic element, but now it`s been encouraged to Ilower« (Adie 2002,

papers or even oI what constituted ·news·« (Knightley 2004, 2). Historical
accounts oI war corresponding, which are usually written by journalists
themselves and thereIore with a certain celebratory ring, have been pro-
duced since the early 20th century. Frederick Bullard`s rather anecdotal
Famous War Corresponaents dates Irom 1914. Phillip Knightley`s more
ambitious The First Casualty is a Irequently cited source and has been up-
dated several times; the latest edition to date (2004) extends to the war in
Iraq. Roth (1997) is a comprehensive and very useIul dictionary oI war
journalism, also in its historical dimensions.
This Ilowering oI personalisation in war reporting is also noted critically
by David Welch, who draws attention to the concomitant proliIeration oI
war reporters` personal accounts oI their experiences:

»Wars oIIer unique opportunities Ior reporters to impose themselves on a news
story |...|. There can be little doubt that in recent conIlicts, war correspondents
have acted not simply as conduits oI inIormation, but as personalities in their
own right. It has become ae rigeur Ior correspondents to publish their memoirs
oI war. AIter the conIlict we now anticipate the publicity IanIare oI a war cor-
respondent hawking his or her story around the media. The ·celebration oI the
correspondent·, whereby the messenger becomes as important iI not more
important than the message has, according to some critics, led to a ·dumbing-
down· oI reporting news Irom war zones« (Connelly/Welch 2005, xiv).

The citations above suggest that war correspondents in the contemporary
media oIten Iunction as actors in a double sense: They act in their spe-
ciIic proIessional Iield and, at the same time, deliver the perIormance of
a war correspondent Ior an audience. The element oI perIormance in the
latter sense is particularly strong where correspondents report on televi-
sion, as a visible, embodied presence and via the camera directly ad-
dressing an audience. As we shall see, however, an element oI role-play
marked the behaviour oI war correspondents long beIore the advent oI
television, and it is in this perIormative dimension that cultural images oI
the war correspondent maniIest themselves with particular clarity.
This book will not concern itselI with the actual perIormance oI war
correspondents but with autobiographical and Iictional representations in
which the Iigure oI the correspondent and his or her behaviour are
(re-)constructed and thus (re-)conIigured. Representations select and
highlight speciIic aspects oI war correspondents and their behaviour, ac-
cording to the perception oI correspondents themselves or that oI the
writers and Iilmmakers who look at the proIession Irom the outside. Both
as inside and outside views, representations oI war correspondents grant

9 On the tendency oI correspondents to become news themselves, see also
Willcox (2005, 32), who cites John Simpson as an example: »Despite his
protestations, Simpson`s image dominates news items that he reports, be-
coming synonymous with the BBC`s conIlict analysis. His subsequent
books have emphasized this depiction oI himselI as both a reporter oI and
component oI news events. He is part oI a growing number oI celebrity
journalists, many oI whom have a number oI publications to their name.«
A comment by Sue Arnold in The Inaepenaent goes in the same direction:
»What really depresses me about the whole depressing situation is the un-
ashamedly personal spin that every correspondent seems to put on his re-
ports nowadays« (20 March 2003, 22).
access to the cultural conceptions according to which they were con-
structed and are thereIore pertinent to an investigation oI the cultural sig-
niIicance associated with war journalism. In sharper contours and more
consciously shaped than an ethnographic account, autobiographical and
Iictional representations indicate which cultural images and meanings are
associated with war correspondents at a given time, and they participate
themselves in the ongoing negotiation oI this cultural signiIicance.

The Pepresented Peporter

The recent surge oI war correspondents` memoirs noted by David Welch
above has been accompanied by a wave oI representations in other
modes. In the Iirst years oI the 21st century, war reporters appear in
popular television production, Ieature Iilms and literary as well as popu-
lar novels. They are the subject oI poetry
and have made their appear-
ance on the stage: When Shakespeare`s Henry J was produced at the Na-
tional Theatre in London in May 2003 (directed by Nicholas Hytner), al-
lusions to the war in Iraq seemed irresistible and, in addition to the play`s
customary personnel, the Iields oI France were peopled by embedded
correspondents. Such contemporary representations have precursors that
reach back to the 19th century, when memoirs oI war correspondents
Iirst became a staple oI the book market and popular writers such as Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling chose war correspondents as
subjects oI their short stories and novels. In its later chapters, this book
will discuss some oI the aesthetically and intellectually more signiIicant
Iictional representations. But it is important to note, Irom a cultural point
oI view, that war correspondents also Irequently appear in popular Iiction
and Iilm, just because the type per se is topical and/or has an aura oI
adventure and romance that is entertaining.
A particularly curious ex-

10 Ciaran Carson`s poem sequence »The War Correspondent«, Ior instance,
was published in the Times Literary Supplement on 29 December 2000, 8I.
11 There is, Ior example, a whole range oI thrillers and romances in which
war correspondents have appeared as major or minor characters in recent
years: Barbara Taylor BradIord`s A Secret Affair (1996), Colin Falconer`s
Dangerous (1996), Willow Tickell`s Cooling Off (1997), Jessica Mann`s
The Survivors Revenge (1998), Peter Temple`s In the Evil Day (2002), or
Patrick Coleridge`s Rut (2006). For an earlier example see James Hilton`s
Knight Without Armour (1933), whose protagonist begins his adventures,
most oI which take place in revolutionary Russia, as a correspondent dur-
ing the Russo-Japanese War. James Gant`s thriller Zero-O-One (1957) is
ample oI the latter is Iound in an episode oI the television Iantasy series
The Lost Worla. This series is loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle`s
scientiIic romance oI the same title and presents characters oI the early
20th century stranded in a surviving prehistoric world peopled by dino-
saurs and more or less aggressive human tribes. The writers managed to
smuggle a correspondent even into this unlikely scenario: In the episode
»Brothers in Arms« (2002), one oI the regular characters, a journalist,
remembers his time as a young correspondent in the First World War.
While popular representations tend to employ clichéd perceptions,
Ior example oI the war correspondent as adventurer and hero, more sub-
tle portrayals engage with general cultural attitudes towards war, opin-
ions about the role oI the media in war, ethical implications oI war jour-
nalism, and they also provide critical investigations oI the proIession`s
myths. In any case, the representations oI war correspondents are part oI
a cultural circuit:

set in Japan during the Second World War. Gant was a Iormer corres-
pondent himselI, and his book was published in the paperback series ·Un-
told Stories oI a War Correspondent·, which used the Ilair oI the war cor-
respondent as an obvious marketing strategy. Film in particular has ex-
ploited the heroism and romance around war correspondents Irom its early
days, beginning with the early short The War Corresponaent (USA 1913,
dir. Robert G. Vignola). War Corresponaent (USA 1932, dir. Paul Sloane)
is a melodrama Ieaturing a war correspondent in picturesque Shanghai. In
The Angry Hills (USA 1959, dir. Robert Aldrich), a Iilm based on a best-
selling novel by Leon Uris, an American correspondent in the Second
World War gets involved with the Greek underground and is pursued by
the Nazis. As a minor Iigure, a correspondent is also among the enduring
American soldiers in Obfective, Burma' (USA 1945, dir. Raoul Walsh).
Representations oI war reporters respond to existing cultural concep-
tions, and in turn have repercussions on the cultural understanding and
perception oI war correspondents. Providing cultural Irames Ior behav-
iour, they also aIIect the actual perIormance oI correspondents, which, in
turn, may give rise to new representations. As we will see, war reporters
are quite Iamiliar with their colleagues` memoirs as well as with novels
and Iilms that Ieature war reporters, and they may model their behaviour
on the patterns they Iind in these representations or deliberately dis-
tance themselves Irom patterns nourished by Iiction. Many journalists in-
terviewed Ior a recent study oI journalism ·under Iire· »expressed a de-
sire not to be classiIied as war correspondents« because oI the public
image oI their proIession: »They were concerned about being painted as
·war junkies·, unsavoury obsessives who move compulsively Irom one
conIlict to another« (Tumber/Webster 2006, 63). For others, memoirs,
novels and Iilms may be important Ior building a sense oI tradition oI
their trade. From what they write in their selI-representations, war jour-
nalists seem particularly inclined to measure themselves against the icons
oI their proIession, thus implicitly putting themselves into the illustrious
line. John Simpson, Ior example, emulates William Russell,
and Kate
Adie writes admiringly about Martha Gellhorn:

»Every conIlict needs a Martha Gellhorn, with a clear eye and an unIailing
grasp oI what she was doing, why she was doing it, and the guts and style to do
it well.
I met her just beIore she died. She was stunning and still reporting: stylish
and perceptive, wise and witty. It became immediately clear that the precepts
and principles which she had held Ior decades were enduring and relevant«
(Adie 2002, 401).

Sometimes correspondents will have met their idols, as in Adie`s ex-
ample, but more Irequently, they will only have read their texts, both re-
portage and reminiscences, or encountered them through Iilms and
Representation and actual perIormance are thus closely interlinked,
and in some instances, this interweaving can be quite intricate: Ior in-
stance in the case oI Iiction Iilms that are recognisably based on the ex-
periences oI real war correspondents but where these real reporters,
though appearing under their own name, are characters played by actors.
In such cases, the war correspondent`s original perIormance is re-enacted

12 »He had |...| considerable toughness and determination, bags oI literary tal-
ent, and a proven ability to get on with soldiers« Simpson (2002, 26I.); in
all, Simpson devotes a Iull ten pages to Russell`s career.
and, at the same time, reconIigured aIter certain images and myths asso-
ciated with war journalism. The Iictionalised Ernie Pyle in The Story of
G.I. Joe (1945) or Sydney Schanberg in The Killing Fielas (1984)
portrayals oI the biographical Pyle and Schanberg but at the same time
exhibit traits associated (at the respective time they were produced) with
war reporters in general so that the characters also have a signiIicance as
In a number oI ways, then, representations provide material Ior a cul-
tural reading oI war correspondents: They indicate dominant cultural
conceptions oI correspondents, they permit us to trace the history oI such
images, and they thus reveal cultural Irames Ior the behaviour oI cor-
respondents. This book will primarily be concerned with representations,
but it is necessary to remain aware oI the relationships in which these
representations stand to general cultural perceptions and correspondents`
actual perIormance.


OI the many Iorms in which correspondents have been represented,

memoirs, novels and Iilms will receive special attention. As extensive
narrative Iorms, they can provide a large scope Ior the correspondent`s
·(selI-)Iashioning· and show him or her as an actor with several dimen-
sions: mental and physical, proIessional and personal. They have the
Iullest potential to present war reporters as human agents in the cultural
mediation oI war. However, these sources diIIer in their speciIic qualities
and in what they suggest about cultural conceptions oI war corres-
pondents. It has already been mentioned that distinctly popular represen-
tations show a tendency to use clichéd images and Ioreground elements
oI entertainment. In other respects too there is notable variation in the ar-
tistic qualities oI literary and cinematic texts. Correspondents` memoirs
are oIten close to reportage and comment, but some have more obvious
literary ambitions. The poet James Fenton, Ior instance, was an occa-
sional war reporter in Vietnam during the late phase oI the war. The
reminiscences oI his experiences in Vietnam, which Iorm a part oI All the
Wrong Places, declare a literary intent that distinguishes them Irom other
examples: »Although I had a Iew journalistic commissions, I was not
going primarily as a journalist. I wanted time and solitude to write, and

13 For a discussion oI The Killing Fielas, see pp. 123-124.
14 Apart Irom the Iormats discussed here, there are also, Ior example, car-
toons and photographs representing war correspondents.
knew that travel would tend to make me Iall back on my own company«
(Fenton 1990, 4).
As a Iorm oI autobiographical writing, memoirs emerge Irom a cor-
respondent`s authentic experiences. They convey their authors` personal
views oI these experiences, but also oI their proIession in general. The
term ·memoir(s)· is used to identiIy a branch oI autobiographical writing
in which the public dimension oI the narrated experiences is empha-
It is used here because correspondents` reminiscences do, oI
course, relate many personal impressions oI and reactions to what their
respective author witnessed, but they also include general opinions on
various aspects oI the proIession, the military, the media and war. Like
more privately oriented autobiographies, however, memoirs are also al-
ways constructions. In Jerome Bruner`s words, they constitute

»a way oI construing experience and oI reconstruing and reconstruing it until
our breath or our pen Iails us. Construal and reconstrual are interpretive. Like
all Iorms oI interpretation, how we construe our lives is subject to our inten-
tions, to the interpretive conventions available to us, and to the meanings im-
posed upon us by the usages oI our culture and language« (Bruner 1993, 38).

The memoirs oI war correspondents present memories oI incidents or re-
Ilections which their authors have selected as signiIicant Ior the inter-
pretation oI their (proIessional) lives and which are deemed signiIicant
Ior other people`s views oI these lives and war reporting in general. They
are important sources Ior an analysis oI war correspondents` selI-images
and the ways in which they relate to images which others have Iormed oI
their proIession.
Novels and Iilms may, as we have seen, be based on a real cor-
respondent`s liIe, but by Iictional contract, they are not bound to a Iactual
basis and Iree to develop the Iigure oI the war correspondent in various
directions and dimensions, Irom Ilat stereotypes to psychologically com-
plex portrayals that establish war correspondents as Iully-Ileshed, think-
ing and Ieeling human beings. While memoirs are retrospective and usu-
ally written in the limited perspective oI the Iirst person, novelists have
the option to present their narrative in the third person and thus to set up
an external view oI their correspondent characters, also with a physical
dimension that is not always realised in correspondents` memoirs. They

15 See, Ior example, the deIinition in Abrams (1993, 15): »Autobiography is a
biography written by the subject about himselI or herselI. It is to be distin-
guished Irom memoir, in which the emphasis is not on the author`s devel-
oping selI but on the people and events that the author has known or wit-
can use the narrative voice to deliver overt comments, or they can simu-
late a correspondent character`s immediate experience by letting readers
share his or her inner liIe, that is, perceptions, thoughts and emotions,
thus creating opportunities Ior empathy. Fiction Iilms have their own nar-
rative options, and in contrast to literary narrative, their action is pre-
sented in a truly perIormative mode. Thanks to this perIormativity oI
their own representation, Iilms have a particular capacity to expose per-
Iormative elements in their correspondent character`s behaviour.
In the Iollowing study, emphasis will be on the conception and repre-
sentation oI war correspondents in British culture Irom the 19th century
to the present. This restriction ensures a coherence oI background and
tradition (including national journalistic traditions) and pays tribute to the
Iact that many enduring myths about the proIession originated in the
British context. Here a cultural imaginary oI the war correspondent Iound
an especially Iertile ground to develop, not only because oI Britain`s
many imperial wars during the second halI oI the 19th century, but also
because oI a highly developed and competitive press system. The mem-
oirs and novels to be analysed were all produced by British corres-
pondents and literary writers, or such that lived in Britain Ior a signiIi-
cant time. One has to be aware oI the Iact, however, that limiting war
correspondents to nationalities is increasingly diIIicult as media systems
become global. Furthermore, one important area oI representation has
always been transnational, at least in its reception: In cinema and televi-
sion culture, the image oI the war correspondent has been signiIicantly
shaped by Hollywood, and when British correspondents reIer to Iilms, as
Kate Adie in the Iollowing excerpt, these Iilms are oIten oI American

»Hollywood Iilms have journalists crabbing towards close vantage points
which show them precisely who is shooting whom, while villagers who always
speak comprehensible English explain how it all started. We were all too ap-
palled to move any nearer, and, as a rather dramatic sunset ensued, against
which brilliant Ilames reared up through blackened raIters on the end oI a
long lens we crept away rather shameIaced and not a little Irightened, to de-
liver our oIIerings to London« (Adie 2002, 291I.).

For representations in Iilm and television, the book will thereIore include
a number oI American examples apart Irom British (co-)productions,
which are also oIten made Ior the international market.
The selection oI examples will otherwise be limited to texts and Iilms
about wars with relevance to Britain or at least British correspondents.
As we will see, the (selI-)representations oI war correspondents tend to
cluster in certain periods and in connection with certain conIlicts: the
British imperial wars, the two World Wars and the two intermediate wars
in Spain and Abyssinia that attracted the attention oI the British public.
Vietnam is brieIly considered as a war that aIIected the perception oI war
correspondents everywhere and as a war that has yielded many represen-
tations in the area oI Iilm. Since they inspired an especially great number
oI representations, the civil wars in Iormer Yugoslavia, the 1991 GulI
War and the wars occasioned by 9/11 will receive special attention.

Chapter Dvervi ew

Since the war correspondent`s representation and perIormance are inter-
woven, Chapter 2 Iirst provides an outline oI the most signiIicant struc-
tural Ieatures that deIine the actual behaviour oI correspondents. The
chapter begins with a look at the perIormative element or theatricality
that correspondents themselves and their observers have noted in this be-
haviour. This perIormativity highlights the extent to which the proIes-
sional demeanour oI war reporters is governed by role conceptions and
rules oI the game, and it suggests that theories oI social action provide a
useIul Iramework Ior discussing war correspondents as social players
within the Iield oI war journalism. Concepts Irom two theoretical ap-
proaches seem particularly apt Ior this purpose: PerIormance Studies
permit us to discuss war correspondents as social perIormers, and as
human beings endowed not only with a mind but also with body and Ieel-
ings, that is, aspects Ioregrounded in the perIormative approach (and also
oI special relevance in the Iictional representation oI correspondents).
Social perIormers need a ·stage· or ·playing Iield·, and Pierre Bourdieu`s
notion oI Iields oI social action suggests itselI Ior conceptualising this
area. While a Iield is deIined by certain external parameters that deIine
its characteristic actions, Bourdieu`s concomitant concept oI ·habitus·
reIers to internal dispositions that enable an actor to play in a Iield in the
Iirst place. The notion oI habitus incorporates, among others, the rules
and images that guide a war correspondent`s behaviour, that is, Irames in
whose construction representations are centrally involved. Apart Irom
identiIying the main parameters that have deIined the war corres-
pondent`s role and behaviour Irom the 19th century to the present, Chap-
ter 2 points out how these parameters have always been reIlected in cor-
respondents` memoirs and have thus become part oI a layered textual
system through which correspondents themselves have tried to under-
stand their proIession and to explain its signiIicance to the general pub-
Chapters 3 to 5 then Iocus on representations oI war correspondents
in a historical sequence. Since correspondents` memoirs Irom various
periods are cited extensively in Chapter 2, the other chapters, while also
drawing on memoirs, lay their particular emphasis on representations in
literature and Iilm and on how they negotiate the respective cultural
images oI war correspondents. Chapter 3 runs Irom the Crimean to the
South AIrican War (or Second Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902): a period in
which British war correspondents accompanied their country`s imperial
endeavours and a period in which their selI-image and the mode oI their
perception and representation by others were signiIicantly shaped. Chap-
ter 4 spans the time Irom the proIession`s Iirst severe crisis during the
First World War to the 1980s, tracing various lines in which the repre-
sentation oI war correspondents developed aIter this crisis, Irom a res-
toration oI the image during the Second World War to critical reIlection
about the (im-)possibility oI ·objective· reporting. Chapter 5 Iinally ad-
dresses the developments which war reporting and its Iictional represen-
tation have taken since the 1990s.