The media and armed conflict

Authored by: Philip Hammond

The Routledge Companion to British Media History

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415537186
eBook ISBN: 9781315756202
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629474


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In the course of a generation, media coverage of war seems to have changed beyond recognition. Twenty-first-century audiences expect news to be instantly available 24/7, enlivened with satellite link-ups to the battlefield, reporter blogs and participant video footage. Moreover, they expect such coverage to be presented in several globally available varieties, not just CNN or the BBC, but Russia Today and Al Jazeera, and they may encounter it via social media rather than a conventional news outlet. It is a world away from the 1982 Falklands conflict, when only a limited number of journalists, all hand-picked by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), could get anywhere near the warzone. News did not ‘roll’, it came in restricted, daily bulletins, with the media’s communications dependent on the military’s infrastructure, their news images often delayed for days and their stories vetted before transmission back to London. Yet at the same time it often appears that little has changed. Many critics have noted the steady stream of propaganda and misinformation that has flowed through coverage of recent conflicts. Support for ‘our boys’ and near-hysterical demonization of enemies are still routine features of war journalism.

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