Can media help win – or lose – a war? Answer through detailed discussion of coverage in one war since 1945. Introduction:
The Vietnam War could be characterized as one of the most controversial incident in America’s history. United States acted paradoxically; they claimed that they protected democracy, they raised an oppressive dictatorial regime in the area of South Vietnam and later the US army was destroying villages in order to protect them (Wiest, 2002). In terms of media, the Vietnam War was the first war, which was extensively televised. Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian communication theorist said: “Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America- not on the battlefields of Vietnam,” (Hallin, 1986). After the Vietnam War reporters and cameramen changed the style of reporting the events of similar conflicts. The press was recognised as a sort of “fourth branch of government” (Hallin, 1986). During the Vietnam War, the American media exercised a powerful check on government’s decisions and actions. Certainly media did not act as a collaborator. Media’s job in previous wars was to keep the public optimistic and panic free. Contrariwise, during the Vietnam War the media roused the citizens about the government’s actions and intentions. Did media play a key role at the Vietnam War? What did actually happen in the jungles of Vietnam some decades ago and what was the public told by the media about it? Who were the real protagonists of the Vietnam War? The soldiers fighting in Vietnam’s battlefields, the politicians arguing in the Pentagon, the correspondent journalists or the American public? An Overview of the Vietnam War:
2514600161925 The Vietnam War also known as the Second Indochina War started on the 1st of November 1955 and ended after the fall of Saigon on the 30th April 1975. This War grew out of conflicts among Vietnamese and colonial powers. The battles mainly took place in the area of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam was under Chinese domination for almost 1,000 years (111 BC-936 AD). In the late 1800s, French forces took control of Vietnam. During the ‘40s nationalist movements were pursed in Vietnam demanding independence (Hall, 2008). Meanwhile, the events of the Second World War had dramatic impact on the progress of Vietnamese history. France was occupied by German troops (1940) and as a result French powers were attenuated in Vietnam and thus Japan invaded the country as well. Therefore, in 1941 Vietnam ended up being occupied by two foreign powers (SparkNotes Editors, 2005). In 1941 Ho Chi Minh, returned to Vietnam after 30 years of absence and organized the movement of Viet Minh; which aimed to rid his country of the French and Japanese forces. At the end of the Second World War Ho Chi Minh’s forces expanded to the capital of Hanoi and declared Vietnam’s independence. French officials denied to recognize Vietnam as an independent state and returned to Vietnam, restricting Ho Chi Minh’s forces into the North part of the country. In order to defeat the French Axis, Minh appealed for aid to the US. However, due to Minh’s communist leanings and the Cold War, J. F. Kennedy America’s President at the time did not respond to Minh’s appeal. On the contrary J.F. Kennedy he reinforced the French powers. Americans felt threatened by North Vietnam as they were afraid of the possibility that if one country in Southeast Asia fell in communism, due to the Domino Theory, many other countries would follow (Weist, 2002). In 1954, the first Indochina battle between French and Vietminh troops took place at Diem Bien Phu. This battle lasted for 55 days and at the end of it 3,000 French soldiers were killed while 8,000 were wounded. Vietminh won the battle but they faced very severe losses as more than 8,000 men were killed and 12,000 men were wounded. After their humiliating defeat the French in 1954...
Bibliography: Berg, R. (1991) "Losing Vietnam: Covering The War In An Age Of Technology." New York: Columbia University Press
Hall M. (2008), The Vietnam War, 2nd edition, Harlow: Longman
Wiest Andrew (2002), The Vietnam War: 1956-1975, Oxford: Osprey
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