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The Influence Of Media On War

9316 words - 37 pages

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Term Paper TextThe United States Constitution provides American citizens with numerous rights. Sometimes, there is a conflict between protecting one right over another. A classic battle has been waged between the media and the military since the beginning of our great nation around our right to free speech. It is easy to understand where the disagreement originated. The media wants full access to every battle and operation along with the desires to report what, when and how it wants. The military, for safety and operation issues, wants to control the flow of information. The greatest fear of a military commander, in a pre-invasion scenario, is that something might leak that would tip off an enemy to their whereabouts or force strength. The press leans on their right to free speech, while the military counters with the welfare of our soldiers.This argument has lead to the government establishing strict limitations on the press and what can be reported. The restrictions have changed over the years due to technology and an understanding that both groups are dependent upon each other for success. The press can sell more advertising or papers with a good story and the military can garner incremental funding and recruits with the proper national image and agenda.News executives understand the need to protect our soldiers and operations and have agreed, in specific circumstances, to delay or modify coverage in the interests of security. While the news organizations agree to the sensitivity of certain facts, they are very conscious of alternative motives of the military or their civilian superiors. If the military leadership tries to stifle news coverage by stretching the security blanket for political purposes, to enhance their public image, to cover up mistakes or influence public opinions about a war, the battle for free speech will be waged. The major wars from World War II to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan provide a window into the connection of media and military.In spite of the immediate institution of censorship after the outbreak of World War II, the war represented the high-water mark of military-media relations. The country, including news organizations and their journalists, was of one patriotic mind forged by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The reporters wore uniforms and traveled with military units, and editors accepted battlefield and home-front censorship as the price of national security. The ability to transmit information from the front lines of the war to the front page of the paper was also a time-consuming process. Notes, stories or video footage would have to be manually transferred from a battle to a command station and, ultimately, back across the Atlantic to the local papers and press.President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Office of War Information and the Office of Censorship in 1942. The Office of Censorship fashioned a set of codes that told journalists what they could, and more importantly,...

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