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Blog 4: Covering wars and tragedies

As I began to think about this blog post I was completely against the challenging of a president or military leader in the face of war or national crisis but as I began to research this topic a little more my views began to change a little.

I always like to relate things back to the sports world for me and in this case, more specifically, coaching. I just began coaching this past semester and I really got a good look at the other side of the game (hang with me, it’ll all tie back together). Within a coaching staff you have to be in agreement with your plan of attack with not only the team but individual players as well. If you all aren’t in agreement together it can create distrust from the players. Then if one player begins to question what the coaches are thinking and doing he could spread that throughout the team and before you know it you have a team that’s divided amongst each other, as well as a group of players who don’t believe in their coaches. This actually went on this past week with the Detroit Pistons, click on this link to read that story and in the next paragraph you’ll see how I tie it all together.

Here’s where I tie it all back to the media covering the war. When you look at our country, we should always be working together for the betterment of the country (the team). The high ranking authorities that hold all the power in the decision making process are like the coaches of our team. If you have the coaches coming to a consensus of how to approach a war you want everyone within the country to be on board with it. This is where the journalists come into play. If there are journalists that oppose how the President is going about his decision making process then that gets played and the team (us), begin to go against what the nation’s leaders are trying to do.

So when I look at it this way I’m completely against opposing the president and military leaders during war because it causes internal conflict within our own country. Those were my initial thoughts on coverage of the war, but I’ll be the first to admit that I have little knowledge of war coverage so I knew that I had to do some research to familiarize myself with the different ways that journalists. As I did, here’s what I found and why it persuaded me the rethink my stance.

A big part as to why the recent war was started because of false information that the United States received from an informant who had fictitious information on weapons of mass destruction.  Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, aka Curveball, claimed that Saddam Hussein was constructing weapons of mass destruction. Click here to read the rest of the story.

If the journalists and publication companies just go along with what curveball said and what Colin Powell decided then who is going to speak up? You’d like to think that the high-ranking officials take every precaution when making decisions like this but this case shows that things can sometimes slip by. When you let journalists in who aren’t afraid to challenge decisions they almost transform into detectives for the President, a national checks and balance system.

When it comes to major crisis such as events like 9/11 I think the media really walks a thin line when it comes to how it should cover the events.  My big thing is that the media has to be very sensitive because you never know who’s watching and whom it might offend. Something like 9/11 was such a sensitive time and the more that graphic scenes were shown, the more people became enraged and saddened by the events. This video is with Keith Olbermann discussing the coverage of the 9/11 and it’s aftermath.

I’d like to think that journalists should simply just relay facts and facts only but when we go back to the bias involved with reporting it almost seems as if it’s just impossible for journalists to not take a side. This was a little bit of a confusing post so let me re emphasize my stance. I think that journalist should be careful when opposing the president and the military leaders in a time of national crisis so as not to create tension within the nation when unity is needed. I also believe however, that journalists are a good source of checks and balances for the American public with the president, and finally I believe that journalists have to be super sensitive and thoughtful when it comes to covering national tragedies.


  1. March 2, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Would sports teams function differently if the coaches were voted on by the players? Sports teams are not a democracy, so it is a different model I think. More of a dictatorship really. This is an interesting comparison to think about though.

    I think your best line is your final one: “I believe that journalists have to be super sensitive and thoughtful when it comes to covering national tragedies.” Journalists do have a responsibility when something tragic has occurred. Not that they shouldn’t ask questions, but certainly they also facilitate the recovery and healing process and not do things to impede this.

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