Home > BLOG 4 > Roles of Journalist During Times of Crisis

Roles of Journalist During Times of Crisis

It’s hard to say whether or not journalist should challenge the leaders in times of crisis and war. I think it definitely depends on the timing. In class we discussed how President Bush waited until September 20th to address the country after the 9/11 attacks. Just as Bush waited to address the nation appropriately, I believe this is how journalist should handle themselves in times of crisis. Immediately following the attacks the press did a good job in supporting what the government officials had to say. The question is did they wait to long after to begin challenging them. In the movie Buying the War, this is exactly what was discussed. I found an interesting article that was published October 17, 2001, which was a little over a month after the 9/11 attacks. There were two main points that I found interesting, that do a good job of summing up the role of journalists at the time.

When National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice asked, rather than demanded, that bin Laden’s statements be more carefully and tightly edited by American networks, she made both the appropriate and the politically savvy choice

The reason that the media believed this to be a politically savvy choice was that Condolezza Rice requested this from the media not demanded it. This is a good point. I believe that if the media and the government officials could work more closely then the critisim the media puts out would sounds less threatening. I do think that the media has some obligation to challenge what the government is putting out there. Many Americans depend solely on the opinions of others on the events going on with our country. If the media is not at all challenging what is being released by the president and his staff, then no one will really think twice about what is going on. The other line from this article that I thought did a good job explaining what happened around 9/11 was as follows:

Writing in the New York Times, columnist Frank Rich has noted that this administration, like any other facing a crisis, has sought strenuously to sell its own version of events while vigorously contesting any criticism.

This I thought was another accurate point. The Presidential staff want to make themselves look the best that they can. They do not want to admit mistakes, nor does anyone else. I think the media has an obligation to point out these mistakes. This allows for citizens to have a better understanding of what is going on. I think as far as war time goes, there does not really need to be a grace period for criticism. War is a very controversial issue so there are going to be many views on the topic. I think it is good for viewers to understand both the pros and cons of going to war. To end here is a video I found about Obama speaking of 9/11. The main point just seems to be that the media nor anyone else should challenge to 9/11 story.

  1. March 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    When you say the media has “some obligation to challenge what the government is putting out there,” what are the parameters of that obligation? What is too much challenging and what is not enough? How should journalists know when they have gone too far?

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