Monday, October 31, 2005

Media Coverage of WWII Better than Iraq Coverage

You never know what you’re going to learn reading blogs. Or in the case of something I read today, realize something I already knew but never connected the dots.

Following the links at the speed of light through the blogosphere, I came upon this post by Terry at the blog Nitpicker. Among other things this well thought-out and written piece destroys the argument from our wingnut friends that somehow modern media coverage is bad for their war effort, in this case Iraq. Their argument is something like, Americans were not demoralized by pictures of carnage and dead American troops in, say, World War II, like they are today becuse the media didn't feed them negative images of the war. I always dismissed this whithout even getting into the details because it was typically simplistic and irrelevant to the issues surrounding the war.

But what I missed was the very foundation of that argument is false. Look, as Terry points out, by the middle of the war, the restrictions on showing dead Americans had been lifted.
In 1943, Franklin Delano Roosevelt actually decided to treat Americans as adults. The War Department lifted restrictions on photos of American losses. They argued that Americans needed to get a more complete picture of the war. Photos of wounded soldiers began appearing in newspapers and magazines.
And that’s true. As a student of WWII, I’ve seen the magazines and newsreels and read the stories from the front. But compare that to today. How many dead Americas have you seen in the main stream media? I can’t recall any. And there are official restrictions on the returning caskets being photographed.

Additionally, Terry excerpts writings from people like the famous WWII reporter Ernie Pyle that would be shouted down today by conservatives as treasonous.

The bottom line is, despite vastly superior media technology and availability we are actually seeing, hearing and reading a lot less of the bad stuff than we did during the Second World War.

Go read the whole post, there’s much more to it

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