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Old 03-22-2003, 08:34 AM   #1
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Videophones and live war

War ... live on your TV

March 22 2003

For the first time in history, television networks are carrying simultaneous broadcasts of an ongoing military offensive.

But a new and more subtle form of disinformation may lie behind the "live on TV" spectacle of war in Iraq, some experts fear.

For the past two days, viewers around the world have had access to real time images of fighter planes launching sorties from US aircraft carriers and blinding explosions as cruise missiles pound targets in Baghdad.

They have seen columns of tanks and armoured carriers advancing relentlessly across the desert scrubland as the US-British invasion force fans out across southern Iraq.

While presenters go into raptures over the stream of images from the front-line, the New York Times noted Friday that the television networks had carried more live war coverage in 24 hours than in the whole of the 1991 Gulf War.

It has all come about thanks to the invention of the videophone, a telephone system which can transmit images of mediocre but broadcastable quality, and the decision of the Pentagon to allow some 500 journalists to accompany combat troops.

But US media-watchers and campaigners for impartial reporting are concerned that all may not be what it seems.

"It's a total orchestration. They know that television needs pictures, characters. It's about story-telling, it's Hollywood," said Danny Schechter of the internet site which specialises in scrutiny of the media.

"This is a new level of manipulation, that conceals it's own intention."

"The Pentagon is running the public relations in this war they way it would run a political campaign. And the whole idea of a political campaign is always create photo-ops, action situations in which your candidate looks good," he said.

"You identify with the troops, with their problems, and therefore you identify with the mission. They don't question the mission anymore."

Schechter's comments were echoed by Rachel Coen, an analyst with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), an NGO which monitors the media and its activity.

Coen acknowledged that televised coverage of the conflict in Iraq was turning up new information, but she warned that appearances can be deceptive.

"Seeing the picture of a tank rolling into the desert may give the viewer a feeling that they have an inside track to the war and know the inside scoop, but in reality, it doesn't convey very much information," she said.

The danger, Coen noted, is that such coverage allows mainstream networks to generate hours and hours of exciting battle footage without really addressing bigger picture about the war.

"Humanitarian issues, international legal issues, political issues, all the major important questions that we really need journalists to address," she said.

The last two days have almost turned into a conduit for military information, which is really disturbing."

Coen fears that the US public will be able to sit at home and feel that they have all they need to know at their fingertips, when in fact the access granted by the military provides "superficial, patriotic images of our troops doing their job."

"It would be naive to assume that overnight the military had a sudden change of heart and no longer wanted to manipulate the news. It's a natural military goal. It's up to the journalists not to let that happen. That's why this access is a double edge sword," she warned.


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Old 03-22-2003, 09:42 AM   #2
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The opinionated gentlemen who have accused this as a more efficient means of manipulation and a morbid sense of entertainment (as some have called it) evidently have the luxury of NOT having friends and family in the crisis area. My family and friends, the most important people in my life, are out there - and I am only too grateful for this coverage.

Yes, I am glued to the TV throughout the day and night, but because I have a morbid curiousity, but I live in fear of any harm coming to my family in particular.

I am both impressed with the level of coverage the media has pursued, and the sheer quality of it all. I don't care if I am being manipulated, at least I know they're safe.


Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
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Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

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Old 03-22-2003, 10:11 AM   #3
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Originally posted by Anthony

I am both impressed with the level of coverage the media has pursued, and the sheer quality of it all. I don't care if I am being manipulated, at least I know they're safe.

im glad that your friends and family are safe anthony.

fact is what the pentagon has done is very clever. they have internalized the journalists...and though unfettered access was promised, you can be sure that won't happen.

Tight Lips: Embedded Journalists Learn About Restricted Access Early On
A B O A R D U S S L I N C O L N, March 14 — The media who have been "embeded" with military units have been promised unprecedented access to cover the build-up to a possible conflict with Iraq and a war itself, if it happens.
But less than a week into the embedding, there is already a lot of bristling among some of the journalists aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier deployed to the Gulf region. Some of them — us — began muttering when we were told we had to be accompanied by our escorts — members of the ship's crew including some public affairs officers — everywhere we went except the restroom. The escorts also monitor our interviews with ship's personnel.

A few days into the embed, they were told to keep a record of who we speak to and what we talk about. We were told it was so they would have a log of how many people were spoken to and for what stories. Reporters are famously resistant to anyone monitoring them working.

Ordered to Leave

This week, Admiral John Kelly, head of carrier Task Force 50, had an "admiral's call" for enlisted sailors in the ship's cavernous hangar bay. Some of us were informed just before it took place that we should steer clear of the meeting because it was private. But not everyone got the word.

Witnesses say when two photographers accidentally wandered into the hangar bay during the meeting, the admiral stopped suddenly and barked at them. According to one reporter, the cameramen were confronted by armed guards and ordered to leave.

Another newspaper reporter who planned to do a story about the Navy's policy prohibiting fraternization between the sexes said interviews she had arranged with ship personnel were abruptly canceled because, she said she was told, the admiral did not like the subject matter.

Cynics had predicted that the military and journalists would never mix. The cynics are no doubt chuckling to themselves.
in my opinion, the embeds are only going to run into more problems as war intensifies. merging military and journalistic interests is not a wise idea and in this case, the military holds all the power.

i just want to comment on donald rumsfeld and his remarks about how superb it was to have these embeds in the field with the troops:

rumsfeld obviously quite concerned about the role of embedded journalists in the days leading up to the coalition of the willing bombing
complete article here
'Embedded' Journalists Draw Fire
20/03/2003 08:41 AM Pamela McClintock

Nearly a dozen Republican lawmakers have demanded that the Pentagon defend its decision allow TV journalists to accompany U.S. combat units in Iraq, saying it may serve no other purpose than to advance the heated ratings war.

Among those signing a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld raising questions about the plan to "embed" journalists with U.S. military forces was Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
and then just yesterday
Transcript: Defense Department Briefing March 21 by Rumsfeld, Myers
I would add also that I think we're probably watching something that is somewhat historic. We're having a conflict at a time in our history when we have 24-hours-a-day television, radio, media, Internet, and more people in the world have access to what is taking place. You couple that with the hundreds -- literally hundreds of people in the free press -- the international press, the press of the United States, from every aspect of the media -- who have been offered and accepted an opportunity to join and be connected directly with practically every aspect of this campaign. And what we are seeing is not the war in Iraq. What we're seeing are slices of the war in Iraq. We're seeing that particularized perspective that that reporter, or that
commentator or that television camera happens to be able to see at that moment. And it is not what's taking place. What you see is taking place, to be sure, but it is one slice. And it is the totality of that that is what this war is about and being made up of. And I don't --I doubt that in a conflict of this type there's ever been the degree of free press coverage as you are witnessing in this instance.
i think someone explained the 'positives' of the embeds to secretary rumsfeld.
im the candyman. and the candyman is back.
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Old 03-22-2003, 02:03 PM   #4
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Quite a change from 50 years ago, when we got our information in newspapers days later or, if lucky, the occasional newsreel at the movies.
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Old 03-22-2003, 07:22 PM   #5
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Everyone knows that there is media manipulation. My hope is that when you are getting a feed of realtime video, it must be harder to do so. I mean if you read about it in the paper the next day, or see it from video in the next hour it seems to have much more of a chance to be manipulated.

anthony, i hope everything is well and continue to go well with your family and friends. I have friends there too and hope that they encounter little resistence and that Saddam just gets the hell out.
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Old 03-23-2003, 05:14 AM   #6
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Thank you, womanfish.


Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

Dorothy Parker, 'Resumé'
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