Home > BLOG 4 > Blog 4: The role of Journalism during Wartime and crisis

Blog 4: The role of Journalism during Wartime and crisis

During the classes of the previous week, we pointed out that there were three important functions of mass media in democracy:
  • providing an electoral forum or candidates to debate
  • informing people with a variety of perspective
  • being a watchdog of the government’s action
According to me, the two last functions mentionned above are particularly important during a war. We are familiar with the use of media for propaganda by governments and political power during wartime and major crisis. I think that te role of the press and media in general is to distance themselves from the poitical power and bring objective facts of what is happening.
I think that the Vietnam war has been the turning point of war journalism, most probably because it was the first war

to be broadcasted on television, but at least the audience could really know what American troups were doing in Vietnam. And it has been problematic for the American government since the American society became aware that this war was making a lot of civilian casualties.
For instance this photograph taken by the Associated Press photographer Nick Ut on June 8, 1972 representing Phan Thị Kim Phúc , a young south-vietnamese girl who was burnt after an American napalm attack on the v

illages called Trang Bang.

Nick Ut earned the Pulitzer Price and it was choosen as the World Press Photo of the Year 1972.
In the 2007 blog article “Etat, guerre, médias“, Jean-Bernard Huyges, a political scientist specialized in information, communication and strategy, developed the idea that there was a double imperative for medias during war. They have to avoid to show:
  • neither the brutality of our strength (mistreated prisoners, repression of demonstrators, executions, civil casualties)
  • nor our weakness (for example losing a battle or pictures of losses from our side.)
This is what makes journalists function during time war more difficult: informing the audience with objectivity and freely (because, as it is mentionned in “Buying the war”, the government often interfere in the spreading of war or crisis information).
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