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Nilvia Ramos

Professor Fong

English 1T 01

21 Mar. 2018

Media and War

Media and news sources have been considered as one of the most important component

of human life as we know it. Media has been a platform in which news can be heard from all

across the world. In discussion of the media during times of war, one important issue has been

how the news is being covered. Some argue that sentimental factors from the journalists can

impact the accuracy of the news. On the other hand some contend that there is failure to report

what the public wants versus what the public needs in relation to news from the war. Still others

maintain that although reporting about a war is necessary, bias opinions will come with it.

A very controversial topic when it comes to covering the news in the war is how exactly

it is being covered. A big part to this has to be if the war is being broadcasted or talked about

internationally and if people are informed of what is going on in other places. Nowadays it is

getting harder for every piece of news to be featured on a broadcast and unfortunately this leads

to a selection of what to and what not to air. For instance the unfortunate events that happened in

Yugoslavia and Rwanda are an example of how the news is not covering everything entirely.

What took place in the events there was that there were two huge war like genocides happening

in each country and the reporters did not think Rwanda’s was a big deal, that it was just another

small mishap, and did not air the war internationally like they did with Yugoslavia. In Citizens

Rising, David Hoffman explains, “While the local media in Rwanda Fueled the killings, the

international media virtually ignored them” (123). This exactly shows that the international
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media, who is in charge of outputting important information to the outside world, did not do their

job and chose to ignore what was happening in Rwanda. This also shows the type of coverage

the media is actually doing in relations to covering wars, basically they are not doing their jobs

right. Not only that but this further shows that the media is capable of not showing the public

certain news. Another point that contributes to this is, “It needs to be new, that’s why news

outlets too rarely follow up on stories they’ve already reported” (Gladstone 62).Gladstone is

conveying the point that news reporters do not really care for another similar story in another

place if they have already done a comparable one; they are just waiting for something more

interesting instead of boring repeating news. This relates back to what happened in Yugoslavia

and Rwanda because the news outlets felt like two similar stories would have not brought much

attention from the audience as with just one. Therefore, journalists and other platforms of news

media are just waiting for a good scoop to be able to public instead of boring news that repeats

itself.

Another point that comes up when media has a duty to cover the war is that emotions can

mix in with the facts and can stir up unreliable information. Also when it comes to war being

covered, the public wants versus the public needs are another factor that can influence how and

what the journalists choose to report about. In Everything’s an Argument, Andrea A. Lunsford

explains what pathos is, “powerful tools for influencing what people think and believe” (28).

Now everyone knows how much pathos can influence someone's thinking and decision making.

Take a puppy commercial for an example, they use a lot of emotion and visuals to make you feel

bad for the puppies and give in to donating. Or take a child asking for a toy the way they make

you feel will influence you into buying them the toy they want, and so much more. But as said

pathos and emotional appeal can go a long way when presented a certain way. Now that the idea
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of what pathos can do to someone let's dive into how it can influence people’s views in a war.

When reporting about a touchy subject like war, there will be many emotions swarming around

and it will be hard to tell fact from emotion, but as hard as it is, distinguishing the two are

essential. It can even happen to the best of us; which can be seen in, “Before world war one,

reporters couldn’t distinguish much between facts and values, and are called naive empiricists”

what also happens is, the 1920’s come around and news that soldiers are coming home damaged

are seen in the newspapers. “Long held values do not fit the new facts and it may be impossible

to really know anything” (Gladstone 99). This depicts how the reporters are having a hard time

putting the two things aside and focusing on what they really need to report, the facts. They are

getting misleaded by other information and most likely confusing the public. Not only that but if

the reporters are being influenced by multiple premonition then their state of mind when writing

about the war can be clouded. When reporters start thinking that way they can sway the story and

can twist it to something that shows the truth or to something that shows a lie. Additionally, the

public wants versus the public needs are a huge factor that can also influence a journalist on what

they choose to report. It is true that when one thinks of the war one thinks of patriotism being

implied in another country, and that is what the public wants to believe in and the government is

doing so by feeding them propaganda videos; whereas the facts of the truth of the war can be

completely different and not entirely how the government might be showing the public. This can

be displayed in, “Human beings tend to oppose change unless the benefits are guaranteed to be

huge” (Gladstone 63). This displays the idea that the public are use to no change so having the

public think everything is okay in the war and that things are going smoothly there will be no

attention drawn to it. Once there is a change though the public will see that there is no benefit

going to their side and might get upset with the outcomes, so the reporters tend to sway the story
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to make it look like everything is going in their favor. For this reason this type of mentality can

be harmful to the public because without the public having the truth all they are being told is a lie

and are living in a bubble with no real change.

When journalists and reporters publish news about war, the public tends to be sensitive

towards this issue, hence various bias coming up leading to the most significant problem that the

news media is faced with. The way that journalist and reporters publish their findings are a big

contribution to how people interpret it as well. In The Influencing Machine, Brooke Gladstone,

describes a combination of visual and narrative bias as “sometimes, biases intertwine, resulting

in thrillingly misleading reporting”, which can also be addressed in “The toppling of Saddam

Hussein’s Statue in Al-Firdos Square” (67). As the news tried reporting that the Iraqis were the

ones who toppled down the statue; the square was in fact empty when the event was supposedly

happening and the statue was intact and seen by a Marine gunner. This comes to show the use of

visual and narrative bias, meaning that the journalist tried focusing the spotlight of the news just

on one side instead of the true and complete facts. What really happened in this event was the

Marine gunner was the one who came up with the idea of “taking down the statue and giving the

Iraq’s ropes and sledgehammers when they were entering the square, they then called in the

Marines to control the situation” (67-68). The journalist tried covering up this mishap by making

it look like the Iraq’s were at fault for this by, “zooming in to make the sparse crowd look

bigger” (68). This alo comes to show that the reporters are in with having bias news broadcasted;

he could have set the information straight but instead went with the more appealing story he

knew would get views. When news like this starts happening more often it comes to people's

attention and cause bias opinions; not only that but the journalists and reporters get smarter on

picking what to report because they know what is a better news coverage for views.
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Furthermore it is safe to say that when it comes to times of war and media, it is never an

easy job for a journalist to report on a subject that can easily be twisted and turned into

something else. Truth and lie not only revolves around wars but many topics with everyday

living as well but as experience and common sense hits us it becomes easier to believe something

apart from another.


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Works Cited

Hoffman, David. Citizens Rising: Independent Journalism and the Spread of Democracy.

CUNY Journalism Press, 2013.

Gladstone, Brooke and Josh Neufeld. The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the

Media. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011.

Andrea, A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Everything’s an Argument: with Readings.

Bedford/St. Martins, A Macmillan Education Imprint, 2016.