War Reporting: Why Face the Risks?

Facing the possibility of threat…constant danger…putting your own life on the line; thus are the risks of obtaining coverage as a wartime correspondent or photographer. Along with exposure to battle, conflicts can also arise between the military and the press, from government criticism, and from the public who demand more and more information. With increased demand, news organizations keep looking for ways to utilize new media and technologies.

During the American Civil War, “war reporting would soon become an issue that concerned all Americans – whether they be Confederate or Union. During this conflict, war reporting created and satisfied a culture that was thirsty for news” (“History of Journalism”). It brought about standards for fast and thorough coverage. The telegraph allowed for the rapid spread of news of battles and victories, and photographers created printed and visual images. The government and military in the North and South sought to control the coverage and reporters were confronted with censorship and limitations.

“The issues of new technology, expanded coverage, government restrictions, and national security began with the Civil War. And while the times and techniques have certainly changed since the 1860’s, the fundamental issues remain for wartime coverage to this day” (Cox).

From the Civil War to today’s conflicts overseas, there is a high risk for “truth telling.” Reporters can become targets, governments can subject immense pressure upon the journalists and stories, writers can become detained, held as hostages, tortured and killed for what they do. So why face the risk? Because the truth needs to be told. Stories need to be reported. There is always a massive amount of people involved in different conflicts, and they are starving for truth and information. What truly fascinates me is those journalists who firmly believe in what they do. Journalism won’t ever stop because it is so vital to society.

Cox, Patrich. “From the Civil War to the Iraq War – Hostile Fire Front and Rear.”Digital Journalist. (2003): n. page. Print. <http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0304/pcox.html>.
“Journalism During America’s Greatest Conflict.” History of Journalism. N.p., 30 Sept 2009. Web. 17 Sep 2012. <http://historyofjournalism.onmason.com/2009/09/30/journalism-during-americas-greatest-conflict/>.

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