Media Vs. Military: The Effects Of The Embed Program On Public Interests

2174 words - 9 pages

There are two major perspectives on what role the media occupies in the current political landscape: Pluralist and Marxist. Those who support the pluralist perspective see the media as performing two essential tasks, “(1) it informs the public and (2) it acts as a watchdog on those in power” (Edkins, and Zehfuss 157). The second perspective on the media, the Marxist perspective, takes the following view, “For Marxists, the ruling class uses the media as a tool of persuasion: they try and convince everyone that the hierarchical structure of society is serving everyone’s interests, not just their own” (Edkins, and Zehfuss 158). The unifying trait of these perspectives is the belief that media is influential in the formation of public opinion. Media is very important in forming public opinion, especially during war, however the media’s ability to report during wartimes has been different for each conflict. The government censors the media’s reports during wartime for several reasons. The primary reason is the need to keep information about troop movements and other security items secret. While the protection of military secrets is important, the freedom of press is an important tenet of democracy. During war there is an intricate balance between the freedom of press and censorship. Since the Vietnam War, the balance has gone back and forth. Only recently has a compromise between the media and the military been found with the practice of embedding journalists with troops. However, the process of embedding journalists with troops has impaired the media’s ability to act as a pluralist watchdog for public interests.
The Vietnam War was the first war to take place after a series of massive technological advancements which allowed television to replace radio as the main source of news for the American public. Vietnam has been called the first “Television War” (Edkins, and Zehfuss 151). Media was given unrestricted access in covering the war, and as a result, all parts of the war were covered. The media was able to show the graphic, gruesome side of war. Media Theorist Marshall McLuhan said, “Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America, not on the battlefields of Vietnam” (Edkins, and Zehfuss 152). Public opinion turned against the war in large part because of gruesome images seen on the television. Because of the Vietnam War, the government realized the need to censor the media during wartime.
During the first Gulf War in 1990, the government created the Department of Defense and News Media Pool (DoDNMP) (Edkins, and Zehfuss 151). The job of the DoDNMP was to censor the media’s reports on the war. This was accomplished by restricting reporters’ access to the battlefield, by holding press conferences, and by subjecting all media to “formal security review” (Edkins, and Zehfuss 153). As one could imagine, the DoDNMP was not very popular with the...

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