Vietnam and media and future

Topics: Vietnam War, Tet Offensive, Lyndon B. Johnson Pages: 31 (11390 words) Published: March 14, 2014

Assess the debate surrounding television journalism during the Vietnam War and its impact on future conflicts.

Abigail Wilson
University of Hertfordshire
BA (Hons) History 2012
Word Count: 10,999
Word Limit: 10,000 (+/- 10%)
I confirm that this is my own work and that I have read and understand the University’s regulations relating to plagiarism and collusion Signature:
Date of Submission: 27/04/12


I would like to show my gratitude to
my dissertation supervisor, Tony Shaw,
for his continued support throughout the year.
I also owe sincere thanks to my parents for
taking the time to proof read my work.


Acknowledgements ii

Chapter One: Introduction 1
Chapter Two: The First Television War:
Theorising the Influence of Television Journalism 4 Chapter Three: The Tet Offensive17
Chapter Four: The Lessons Learned:
How did the Vietnam War affect future conflicts30 Chapter Five: Conclusion42


Chapter Two

Figure 1:Daniel Hallin’s Three Spheres 9
Chapter Three

Figure 2: Col. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong Terrorist 22 Figure 3:Communist lying dead in the grounds of the US embassy26


Chapter Two
Table 1: Percentage of American homes with television sets from 1949 to 1966 6

“In war, truth is the first casualty."



“Defeat in Vietnam has left the United States deeply divided, and no issue has been more bitterly divisive than the role of the media”.1 Debates regarding the role of television journalism during the Vietnam War are entrenched in a wealth of literature written by scholars, historians, military officials, politicians, journalists and political scientists. Critics of the media, such as American military personnel and politicians in Washington, have predictably accused the media of broadcasting material that ultimately undermined public support for their military operations. On the other side of this debate journalists have defended their work arguing that they were merely presenting the American news to the American people. The reason that this issue is so important is the legacy this controversy has left behind. Domestic public opinion in America and the perceived backstabbing, by television journalism, is an issue that resurfaces with every new conflict that arises. Daniel Hallin has been influential in his research by arguing against the traditional concept that television journalism lost America the war. Instead Hallin has drawn upon a wealth of sources to show that television did not play a prominent part in the collapse of support for the war. The following chapter will therefore critically examine the historiography that has arisen out of the debate over the role of television journalism during the Vietnam War. One side of this debate is the traditional view that the news coverage of the conflict was detrimental to the American military and lost the war for America. The chapter will then undertake analysis into Hallin’s work that has since revised this traditional thesis. The role of television journalism during the Vietnam War cannot be carried out without extensive research into the reporting of the Tet Offensive. The significance of this event stems from the consensus amongst historians that this was a major turning point in the Vietnam conflict. It was at this point that public opinion appeared to turn against the war and it is argued that the reason for this change was the way in which the offensive was reported and broadcast on television. At the same time that President Johnson and military personnel were claiming a major victory in Vietnam, television...
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