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Author Topic: Modern war coverage  (Read 493 times)

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Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Modern war coverage
« on: October 31, 2017, 11:40:47 AM »
I have a perhaps bigger than average collection of war documentary movies. Comes with the military interest. I also like to read news articles and watch TV programs. And while I, as a Norwegian, get a limited feed of coverage from non-Norwegian news sources, I guess I still pick up a pattern here and there. Maybe. It seems to me that World War Two was covered intensely in USA, in every news source from papers to the movie theater news reels to feature movies both documentary and fictionalized. Move fast forward to the Vietnam war, and the camera crews were no longer just military - any TV station could send in a crew and literally send almost direct battlefield footage. That became an issue once people started watching their own family members die on TV. Fast forward again to the first Iraq war, where the new thing was 'embedded journalism' which no one, least of all the news media, seemed to realize Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels would have applauded. Fast forward again, to the third Iraq war. And counting. And now the question seem to be.... where did all the Western journalists go? Seriously? Seen much footage recently that did not come from the camera of some local guy holding his camera with his left hand and his gun with his right? When things happen and I pick it up through some forum or party webpage, literally days go by before someone starts writing about it in a proper news outlet.

Not attacking American media, here. Norway have small special forces in Iraq, Syria, the Baltic and several North African countries and no Norwegian media writes about what they do - ever. Even when local sources in those countries report Norwegian forces in combat. I understand the need for protecting the identity of each soldier but not reporting on what the units do is, in my opinion, censure.

It is natural to focus on American forces though. Norway sends out maybe 100 guys to each country to run a recon unit or field hospital. USA have HOW many people right now in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria? For that matter, is the average American aware of how many of their sons and daughters are stationed on foreign soil right now?

So I guess my question is this. How do you feel your nation's coverage of current events are? Do you get so much information you are sick of it, or practically none? Doesn't have to be USA. Half the world seem to have forces placed out in the other half of the world, these days.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Modern war coverage
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2017, 11:29:41 PM »
Fatigue is likely a contributing factor, though not the only reason to why American media coverage of war has dropped so much. From Afghanistan straight into Second Iraq and onward, it's been effectively a continual ongoing war for over fifteen years. Media, particular ours, thrives on the new and attention-getting to drive ratings and earn advertising dollars - the war in the Middle East no longer warrants the same focus.

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Re: Modern war coverage
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 07:34:23 AM »
I think up into WW2, the news media were not much focused on the suffering of civilians in war, neither on the stress, difficulties or broken limbs or minds of soldiers after the battle (and stretching many years ahead). The main focus was reporting from the front and covering battles and such - as far as the news crews were allowed to. Of course, during WW2 tv wasn't really part of the media scene either - it had been launched in the thirties but emissions were halted during the war years, so the second world war never became a "living-room tv war" in the way that Vietnam did. As far as I understand, it took a long time after 1945 before the news media really wanted to bring out the unhealed wounds, the grief and pain that remained from the war experience even among those who had survived, or who had fought on the fronts.

But the unprecedented level of human suffering, bloodshed, persecutions and crimes against humanity during WW2, and the massive increase in bombings and firepower, meant that anything reminiscent of those aspects was going to get noticed during later wars - and with Vietnam, and a new generation of war novelists in the fifties and sixties, dread, rape, hunger,  terror and violence became part of the new playbbok for how to report war. It wasn't going to be easy to just present a clean-shaven war anymore. So the military (in any country) wanted the news media to be very close to the front, but they had to admit that it also meant a new risk of more unsavoury sides of the war slipping out into the mass media. With the news media present at your elbow, the army could not just "send fifty thousand men into an offensive against an enemy armed to the teeth and hang medals on those who came out alive" (a way of fighting wars that would apply both to Normandy, the last two years of WW1 and the Crimea war). That would not have worked too well on tv, and with new generations who were not simply going to be cowed by generals or army spokesmen reading terse statements.

Offline Wayfarer

Re: Modern war coverage
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2018, 07:51:30 AM »
I think the lack of coverage is directly related to the fact that most Americans don't have any "skin in the game".

Since the abolition of the draft and the transition to an all volunteer force, less than 1% of the American population serves in the Military. Of that 1%, more than 60% never get deployed into combat, Those who are deployed into combat, less than 50% will see any direct action. Those who see direct action in combat are most likely to serve multiple combat deployments. So we are talking about are very small ( fractions of well 1% ) segment of the American population who are carrying the burden of  these conflicts. New is about running stories of interest to the viewership. Most Americans just don't care as these conflicts have almost no effect on day to life for them. Most Americans don't even know someone who is currently deployed to combat. What has slowly happened in The United States has been the gradual creation of a warrior caste. Unless something happens to change the path that the United States is on, this is a trend that will continue. Most of those who volunteer for direct action career fields in the American military are second, third or more generation service members. Think about it, next year we will be sending some soldiers into combat in Afghanistan that were not born when that conflict began. They will deploy to the same terrain that their fathers fought upon work with some of the same people, etc. Another thing to consider is that the standards of physical fitness are too high for today's average American fatbody to pass. The education standards are likewise too high when compared to what earnings are in the civilian sector. Yet these guys still volunteer. I know of enlisted soldiers with advanced degrees from Harvard and Yale who choose to serve and fight. They could make a lot more money as civilians. Ask them and they will be among the first to tell you, it isn't about the money. It is about serving a nation that has given so much to so many. They volunteer because too many others either can not or will not.