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What Role Did The American Media Play In The Vietnam War

2248 words - 9 pages

Introduction:
The American media is a vital resource for coverage on national and international affairs. They keep the public informed and report on matters that the United States is involved in so the American people can form their own views and opinions on them. Notably the media simply cannot report on every event that involves America so, they also have the job of picking and choosing between what is most important and what is newsworthy, alongside the task of reporting news reports that will produce high enough ratings to keep their news station up and running. All American media outlets face these challenges; whether it is television media, newspaper media, or radio media. Both the American media and the American people need each other—the people need the media for information on current events and American affairs, and the media need the people for ratings and reoccurring interest and support in their news reports to keep them in business.
Media’s Importance and Limitations:
Sometimes the media can under-report events such as the war in Afghanistan. The Afghan War was one of the most under-reported wars in United States history. In 2010, only four percent of American newspaper media was devoted to the Afghan War (Hanrahan). The American people had substantially limited information about the war; therefore opinions about it were rather vast—some supported it, while others did not. A major reason for this was the lack of American news reporters in Afghanistan. There were only a handful of American news reporters in Afghanistan at that time and those who were there struggled to get a story. Those travelling with military units constantly had to be on high alert of their surroundings and while moving with the unit they often could not stop to interview people because of safety concerns—frequent occurrences of road-side bombs, combat fire from the enemy, and many other reasons. With two thirds of American adults relying on television media, this was a concern, for a lack of American media coverage lead to an uneducated population of American citizens.
In contrast to the lack of American media coverage in the Afghan War, coverage of the Vietnam War was abundant. The Vietnam War was the largest war in United States History. Everyone was interested in exactly what was going on in the war so they turned to the media for the latest information. Since the media was not censored, nor did it have any ban on what it could publicize, reporters and news companies were able to express their disapproval of anything they desired.
It is clear that the American media played a key part in the war. Being that the United States has a representative democracy, the American people opposed all things Communist and initially supported the war (Kagan). The initial plan of a non-combat approach seemed appealing to some, but when President Lyndon Johnson ordered the first combative attack, support from the American people ceased. American government officials were...

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