'No Bad Stories': The American Media-Military Relationship   [open pdf - 145KB]

"The general consensus among military people, the press, and academics is that a cooperative working relationship between the press and the military that had been established in World War II collapsed in the 1960s. While these groups disagree significantly on whether media criticism of U.S. policy and strategy contributed to America's defeat in Southeast Asia, the view that Vietnam was a turning point in media-military relations is widespread. 'The War in Southeast Asia changed the fundamental contours of military-media relations,' write a sociologist and a Pentagon reporter. 'As in World War II, a group of young correspondents--David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Malcome Browne, Peter Arnett and Charley Mohr--who arrived in Vietnam in the early 1960s, became famous for their reporting. Unlike World War II, This article will argue, however, that the strained relationship between the media and the U.S. military has nothing to do with censorship--for the simple reason that media-military relations have always been rocky, nevermore than in World War II. The difference between World War II and Vietnam was not the presence of censorship but the absence of victory. In other conflicts, victory has erased memories of a troubled relationship; after Vietnam, the media was caught up in the quest for a scapegoat. Furthermore, the nebulous goals of the War on Terrorism, the fact that it is likely to be a prolonged operation, and the inherent difficulties from a media perspective of covering a war fought from the air and in the shadows virtually guarantee a degeneration of the relationship between two institutions with an inherent distrust of each other. It will be impossible in the future to embargo news, as has sometimes been done in the past. It is imperative that U.S. military establish a solid working relationship with the media, that it integrate them into its strategy--and not keep reporters at arm's length, as if they were hostile interlopers in a private domain.'"

Author:Porch, Douglas
Publisher:Naval War College (U.S.)
Copyright:Public Domain
Retrieved From:Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/
Media Type:application/pdf
Source:Naval War College Review (Winter 2002), v.55 no.1, p.85-107
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