Media access restrictions and censorship during war


Governments tend to control public opinion by restricting media access to the battlefield. The aim is for the mass media to report only success stories and at the same time avoid graphic stories of death on the battlefield that might lead to decreased public support for the war. The following are some web links to relevant articles:

Private Censorship, The Nation, October 11, 2001.
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=special&s=20011011miller

Media Finds Access to War Denied: Coverage: Journalists are bristling at the Pentagon’s tightening control on what they’re allowed to see, SunSpot.net News, October 16, 2001.
http://www.sunspot.net/bal-media17.story

Israeli Media Shifts to the Right: Critics claim Israel's media have turned inward, and shifted to the right since the new intifada, The Christian Science Monitor, October 16, 2001.
http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/1016/p6s1-wome.html

Mideast News Network Has Fans Here: Al Jazeera's coverage uniquely uncensored, San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, October 18, 2001
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2001/10/18/MN8417.DTL

Reporters Want More Access, but Are Careful to Ask Nicely, New York Times, October 22, 2001
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/22/national/22MEDI.html

Rivals Criticize CNN Methods of War Reporting, New York Times, October 22, 2001
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/22/business/media/22CNN.html

Propaganda War May Miss Targets, CNN.com/ U.S., October 23, 2001
http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/10/21/ret.propaganda.war/

U.S. to Use Leaflets, Radio to Get Its Message to Afghan People; Words are a key part of arsenal in attempt to gain support. 'It's not propaganda. It's the truth,' defense chief says, Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2001
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-000080564oct09.story

Full-text scripts of radio the US is broadcasting into Afghanistan
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct2001/d20011015radio.pdf

Journalists and locals exploiting one another in Central Asia, Financial Times, October 27, 2001.
Truth, lies and videotapes: The media, armed with dollars, is fighting its own war in Afghanistan as locals exploit chances they may never have again. Andrew Jack is in the frontline http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/articles.html?print=true&id=011027 001534

US Campaign on a Second Front: Public Opinion, New York Times, October 31, 2001.
Defense Minister Geoff Hoon of Britain, who met US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top officials in Washington on October 31, has suggested that Washington slow the air campaign in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to avoid further strains in the anti-Taliban coalition and to avoid a shift in public opinion in Europe which has begun to swing against the war as a result of reports of civilian bombing casualties. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/31/international/asia/31STRA.html?pagewanted= print

'Tell them nothing till it's over and then tell them who won': In Wartime, Government Considers Media a Menace, The Public i: An investigative report of the Center for Public Integrity, October 31, 2001.
There is an irreconcilable conflict in the way war is reported, highlighted once again by the allied attack on Afghanistan and the anthrax terror in the United States. Two quotations explain this conflict better than any reasoned argument.
http://www.public-i.org/commentary_01_103101.htm

Media Still Wait to Be Called Up, Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2001. Reporters grow increasingly frustrated at Pentagon's denial of access to the battle against terrorism.
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-000086851nov01.story

Action alert: CNN says focus on civilian casualties would be "perverse", FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), November 1, 2001.
According to the Washington Post (10/31/01), CNN Chair Walter Isaacson "has ordered his staff to balance images of civilian devastation in Afghan cities with reminders that the Taliban harbors murderous terrorists, saying it 'seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan.'"
http://www.fair.org/activism/cnn-casualties.html

U.S. Tries to Rally Public Support Overseas, New York Times, November 6, 2001. The Bush administration, worried that public opinion abroad has turned against the American military campaign in Afghanistan, is making a major effort to take its case to the foreign - and especially the Islamic - news media.
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/06/international/06MESS.html?searchpv=nytToday&pagewanted=print

Grisly scenes in freed Kabul (graphic images of a Taliban soldier caught and killed by Alliance), Ananova, November 14, 2001.
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_448881.html

What the Muslim World Is Watching (long article on al-Jazeera), by Foud Ajami , The New York Times Magazine, November 18, 2001.
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/18/magazine/18ALJAZEERA.html?pagewanted=all

US More Tightlipped Since September 11th (survey of the problems)
http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2001/11/ap111501.html

Are Americans Getting the Full Picture? (U.S. More Tightlipped Since Sept. 11), by Deb Riechmann , Associated Press, November 15, 2001.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/0111/18/world/world2.html

A Yugoslav Journalist's Advice to US Media, by Jasmina Teodosijevic-Ryan, TomPaine.com, November 7, 2001 http://www.smh.com.au/news/0111/18/world/world2.html

Al-Jazeera Reporter Says He Was Beaten by Anti-Taliban Afghans, Reuters, November 15, 2001.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31800-2001Nov14.html

U.S., Britain Step Up War for Public Opinion, Washington Post, November 1, 2001
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21159-2001Oct31.html

The Rush To Pressure The Press; Is media objectivity suddenly a bad thing?, by Michael Kinsley, Washington Post, November 9, 2001
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64926-2001Nov8.html

Pakistanis Act Against Taliban Briefings, News Coverage, Washington Post, November 8, 2001
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58479-2001Nov7.html

 

Some theoretical materials

Baur, R. & Dexter, L. (1998). American politics: Congress and its constituents, pp 91-117. In L. S. Etherredge (ed). Politics in wired nations: Selected writings of Ithiel de Sola Pool. New Brunswick & London: Transaction Publishers.

Ferry, W.H. (1969). Masscomm as Guru, pp. 67-82. In J.H. Pennybacker & W.W. Braden (eds). Broadcasting and the public interest. New York: Random House.

Key, V.O. (1961). Public opinion and American democracy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Krasnow, E. G. & Longley, L.D. (1978). The politics of broadcast regulation. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Murphy, A.R. Jr. (1969). Communications: Mass without meaning, pp. 47-56. In J.H. Pennybacker & W.W. Braden (eds). Broadcasting and the public interest. New York: Random House.

Taylor, P.M. (1997). Global communications, international affairs and the media since 1945 (Focus: Chapter 3 Illusions of reality: The media and the reporting of warfare, pp. 99-144). New York: Routledge.