Term Paper: Media and Military Operations

Pages: 10 (3602 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Journalism  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] This was a small victory for the media but it was not any greater of a fight then the one that the general public had in wanting to attend criminal trials. The need for open trials was recognized, however, and closing trials off to the media was considered to violate the rights of the media and the rights of the accused (Lee, 2002).

Those that were against military restrictions on the media will cite many of the cases that have brought the media to this point when they argue that the media has a right to have access to the battlefield. However, the case of Globe Newspaper Company v. Superior Court works to establish a test that would determine whether the media should be allowed to access a particular government activity (Globe, 1982). This test came in three parts. The activity that the media wishes to have access to must have been open historically, allowing the media access has to have an important role in the function of a particular activity, and even if the first two of these issues are met the media access can still be limited if there is an important and compelling governmental interest to limit the media access and these limits are specifically tailored in order to meet that interest (Globe, 1982). This sounds somewhat confusing, but it basically allows the military to protect national security and other rights that they may have from information that could be included in media reports and be damaging to military operations. Based on this three-part test most courts would likely find that military operations would not meet the criteria for being open to the media. There has never been a historical pattern of openness in war, even though reporters have sometimes enjoyed much freedom when they have covered these events. However, there has frequently been restricted access to much of the battlefield including the aforementioned security reviews. The press has been regulated in various ways since the Civil War, and this will not be rescinded anytime in the near future simply because the media feels that it wishes to report to the public more than is currently being allowed (Globe, 1982). In light of the second point, there is no actual reason for the media to be on the battlefield. Most Americans are aware of the war efforts of their country regardless of the media and therefore the media does not play a specific and important role in wartime activities (Globe, 1982). Turning to the third issue, the government definitely has a compelling interest in controlling much of the media access to military operations. This is mostly to continue the security precautions that individuals need and also to make sure that the military maintains the advantage of surprise that they may have over their enemies (Globe, 1982).

Logistical problems are also an issue because there are many reporters on the battlefield and all of these individuals have to be watched and kept safe. This can become difficult or even impossible to do and sometimes when one of these individuals is killed or injured there is uproar in the United States because they feel that the military did not do everything that they should have done to protect this individual. They do not seem to stop and consider the fact that this individual was on a battlefield and risking his or her life to report that he or she saw. There are also individuals who have argued that too much information was censored by the military during the Persian Gulf War and Operation Enduring Freedom, and that this was a violation of constitutional rights because there was no legal reason to restrain this amount of news (Jacobs, 1992). However, the military's system that they have designed and that they implemented during both of these conflicts was deemed to be constitutionally appropriate (Jacobs, 1992). While the military may need to be fairly harsh and restrict what it allows the media to cover, it is also important not to restrict the media too much because reporters will then sometimes choose to avoid many of the strict military rules and go out on their own to cover stories. This happened in 1991 when a CBS newsman, producer, cameraman, and soundman all headed off on their own near the Kuwaiti border (Gersch, Press, 1991). They were captured by Iraqis and they were held prisoner for over six weeks. Later one of the individuals stated that he had been fed very little and had also been beaten. He was not the only journalist to have decided in the past to get around the press restrictions that the military has given. At one point there were thought to be over 28 journalists missing in the war effort (Gersch, Missing, 1991). Naturally, no one wants to see this repeated but as the military tightens the restrictions on how much information these individuals in the media all allowed to hand out it is likely that these individuals will continue to go out on their own and the amount of missing journalists will only increase. At least one journalist was killed in the 2003 war against Iraq because he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The military cannot protect everyone that is over there and these individuals who are so interested in reporting what they see seem to be unaware of much of the danger that they are actually in. They are not trained in combat and there is much about military operations that they do not know. However, for the most part the military willingly lets them in and takes care of them so that individuals in the United States can see what is going on with their military in another country. In the Persian Gulf War the military public affairs individuals proclaimed that the media coverage and relations had been a huge success (Machamer, 1993). The news coverage during that time was largely supportive of many of the efforts that took place in the Gulf War but had the conflict gone on longer and the casualties mounted this might have become difficult for those in public relations (Lee, 2002). Even though these media-military relations were said to be good representatives from the media were very critical about many of the restrictions that the military had imposed on them during the war. They also pointed out that in their opinions those individuals in the United States would be the ones that lost out because there would be very little original reporting on the part of the reporters. There would be no new and interesting reporting because the military would simply censor everything that they did not want seen or heard (Lee, 2002).

Whether this is completely accurate is difficult to say. The military makes one statement about relations and the media makes another. It appears that the two shall not meet anywhere in the middle and it is difficult for individuals hearing both sides of the story to determine which one is correct. Today there is a somewhat strained relationship between the news media and the individuals in the military. What has caused this major rift between the two is difficult to tell. Some of the military's problems began in the Vietnam War because there were very few restrictions on what the press could say (Hammond, 1996). There are those that even blamed the media and the poor coverage that they gave the Vietnam War for the reason that the war was lost. This is largely due to the fact that many of those in the media thought much of what the military was doing at that time to be very cruel and they made these assertions and statements to the American public which hurt the war effort and made the public feel as though there was so much antiwar sentiment that maybe there was definite reason for this and the war was a bad idea (Hammond, 1996).

Another problem with the military and media relations, and a more recent one, is that the country is often not prepared for a war in the sense that there are reporters ready to cover it. Most of these reporters are pulled off of other assignments and sent to cover the war when they do not have any understanding of how military operations actually work. This causes many military officers to be forced to spend extra time answering questions that they normally would not have to answer to make sure that the media individual covering the story understood what they were actually talking about. On the flip side of this it is possible that many in the media may share in a public perception that much of the military is actually interested in promoting war (Lee, 2002). War time is often considered to be the best time for an officer in the United States military to advance in rank and the status and pay rates of these officers are based on… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Media and Military Operations.  (2004, February 13).  Retrieved July 15, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/media-military-operations-recently/9699818

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"Media and Military Operations."  Essaytown.com.  February 13, 2004.  Accessed July 15, 2019.