Reporting war (ethics 2014 seminar)


Published on

notes for seminar

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • I went over this last week in my seminars (ie not the Thursday class) – the point here is that what we can expect to see in the news has changed after a decade of almost incessant war coverage in a rolling news/internet age.
    However, there is still an attempt to modify the ‘truth’ – in order to protect us?
  • Fast forward 7 years or so and we have this gore on the front page.
  • Not covered by The Guardian? More likely Gaddafi propaganda? Uploaded here first: pro-Gaddafi site:
    Bad things happen in war zones and we may not know if they are what they purport to be (DO NOT SHOW THE VIDEO TO STUDENTS!)
  • Play video – 10 mins
  • Play clip 6 mins long
  • Play this short clip. Click the photo or the link above
  • Play clip – this is one of the last reports Marie Colvin filed before she was killed.
  • Play trailer
  • Play audio
  • Reporting war (ethics 2014 seminar)

    1. 1. 1
    2. 2. Questions to consider today • Why do some journalists risk their lives to get stories? • What can the mainstream media show us? Should there be limits? Why/not? • To what extent is it possible to separate fact from propaganda/spin? • How complicit are journalists in this process during wartime? • How might the demands for copy/footage/stories impact upon public knowledge? • Can embedded journalism be balanced? Or should journalists strive to be free from military oversight? • What motivates a journalist to become a war correspondent? 2
    3. 3. 3 Since 1992 the total confirmed journalists death stands at: 1051 (March 2014) 616 of those were murdered with impunity 2013: 211 journalists imprisoned Between 2003-9 89 journalists in Iraq were murdered. 50 more were caught in crossfire
    4. 4. Madrid 2004 4
    5. 5. Madrid 2004 • Guardian changes colour 5
    6. 6. Madrid 2004 • The Times airbrushes 6
    7. 7. Madrid 2004 • The Telegraph airbrushes 7
    8. 8. 8
    9. 9. 9
    10. 10. What can the news actually show us? 10
    11. 11. Sodomized with a knife? 11
    12. 12. 12
    13. 13. 13
    14. 14. 14
    15. 15. What can the news actually show us? 15
    16. 16. 16
    17. 17. Ahmed Chalabi • Interim oil minister in Iraq April-May 2005 and December- January 2006 • Deputy prime minister from May 2005 until May 2006. • Pre-2003 invasion, under his guidance the Iraqi National Congress, supported by lobbyists BKSH & Associates, provided substantial info on which U.S. Intelligence based its condemnation of Saddam Hussein, including reports of weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda • 2007: acted as political intermediary between Iraqis and US security forced during Bush’s “surge” offensive 17
    18. 18. Useful viewing material Control Room (2004, Jehane Noujaim) WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception (2004, Danny Schechter) Panorama Special: In The Line of Fire (9th Nov 2003, BBC) 18
    19. 19. 19
    20. 20. Original news report • 6th April 2003: audio only – • This is the video package that was broadcast – 20
    21. 21. In the Line of Fire • BBC Panorama • Broadcast November 2003 – 7 months after the incident; 5 months after Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech • Edited version resold to UKTV History channel for pre- watershed broadcast. • Features a unilateral/non-embedded team of journalists who have stolen over the Turkey/Iraq border to find news not covered in military controlled circles. • 21
    22. 22. Useful viewing material Control Room (2004, Jehane Noujaim) WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception (2004, Danny Schechter) Panorama Special: In The Line of Fire (9th Nov 2003, BBC) 22
    23. 23. Control Room • Footage from Al-Jazeera documentary that was recorded in Central Command during the war. • Al-jazeera journalists were frustrated with the way in which double-standards seemed to be in operation – • Does it appear like there are double-standards in place here vis-à-vis objectivity, neutrality, truth, etc? 23
    24. 24. How should journalists show the reality of warfare? Clip from C4 show “Iraq: The Hidden Story” (2008) Which broadcaster got it right? 24
    25. 25. 25
    26. 26. Ofcom: Section 1 • Violence and dangerous behaviour • 1.11 Violence, its after-effects and descriptions of violence, whether verbal or physical, must be appropriately limited in programmes broadcast before the watershed … and must also be justified by the context. • 1.12 Violence, whether verbal or physical, that is easily imitable by children in a manner that is harmful or dangerous: – must not be featured in programmes made primarily for children unless there is strong editorial justification; – must not be broadcast before the … unless there is editorial justification. • 1.13 Dangerous behaviour, or the portrayal of dangerous behaviour, that is likely to be easily imitable by children in a manner that is harmful: – must not be featured in programmes made primarily for children unless there is strong editorial justification; – must not be broadcast before the watershed (in the case of television) … unless there is editorial justification. 26
    27. 27. Ofcom: Section 2 • Harm and Offence • 2.4 Programmes must not include material (whether in individual programmes or in programmes taken together) which, taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour. • 2.5 Methods of suicide and self-harm must not be included in programmes except where they are editorially justified and are also justified by the context. 27
    28. 28. 2011: British troops in Afghanistan 28 Footage found in September 2012 following a police search of a laptop (link) Audio of incident (2:02)
    29. 29. Homs, Syria - 21 February 2012 29
    30. 30. Homs, Syria - 22 February 2012 • Marie Colvin • Remi Ochlik 30
    31. 31. Restrepo (2010, S. Junger & T. Hetherington ) 31
    32. 32. Restrepo • The Korengal Valley • Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington • Embedded with Second Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army 32 Trailer
    33. 33. Embedded • Audio: • Tim Hetherington claims the film was not censored and not political • Is this feasible when embedded? • Can any coverage of war be apolitical? 33
    34. 34. How to cover conflicts? • Restrepo has been accused of privileging a soldier’s subjective experience of war. • The filmmakers are embedded with the US forces for a year and its rare for any other perspective to appear. • The filmmakers risked their lives to tell this story, but was it worth it? Why make a film about soldiers 8+ years into a conflict? 34
    35. 35. ‘Grunt documentaries’ • ‘by privileging personal experience over historical awareness, these accounts construct a version of the war in which it becomes impossible to apprehend such atrocities as Haditha, Ramadi, Abu Ghraib’ – Tony Grajeda 2007 35
    36. 36. Misrata, Libya - 20 April 2011 36
    37. 37. Questions? 1. So we have ‘nowness’, we have immediate coverage, we have words and images but what do we know about war? 2. Should war reporting be for information or an extension of the war effort? 3. As viewers we can watch the news non-stop – does this mean that we understand the news as a construction (as provisional, disputed, happening as journalists speak)? 4. Does news become reduced to narrative with points of closure – do we stop viewing when the statue is pulled down? When do we start to watch again, or really listen, or even think? 5. How long did our interest in Iraq last? Are we concerned with it today? Should we be? 37
    38. 38. Additional resources • David Leigh, 2003, ‘False Witness’- examples of military disinformation and the media. Available at –,2763,92931 • Report of faked war report from Sky News. Actual footage available at: – 38
    39. 39. The DA-Notice system • 39
    40. 40. Non-voluntary alternatives • Criminal law Official Secrets Act(s) Terrorism Act 2000/2006 Prosecution follows publication 40
    41. 41. • Tension between free speech and national security/media and government • DA-Notice system is voluntary and extra legal • Arrangement between government and media not to publish certain information 41
    42. 42. Free Speech • Various theories justifying free speech – ‘free speech as an argument from democracy’ most relevant here • Not an absolute right – national security is a legitimate reason for limiting free speech? 42
    43. 43. DA-Notices: Still Useful? • No the internet has increasingly changed the way the public accesses news and information increased information available in the ‘public domain’ (international news, war bloggers, • Yes System still useful for old technology – hard copy print media, radio & television (also have internet platforms that need policing) Represents an alterative conciliatory approach 43
    44. 44. 44
    45. 45. Princely PR • Caroline Gammell, March 1 2008, The Telegraph, ‘How the Prince Harry blackout was broken’ blackout-was-broken.html • Non attributed, March 2, 2008, The Independent, ‘The people's prince: with Harry in Afghanistan. Dog of war or PR pawn?’ harry-in-afghanistan-dog-of-war-or-pr-pawn-790323.html • Peter McKay, March 2 2008, Mail, ‘Prince Harry in Afghanistan: Oh! What a lovely PR stunt’ 524341/Prince-Harry-Afghanistan-Oh-What-lovely-PR-stunt.html • Peter Wilby, March 3 2008, The Guardian, ‘'Harry's war' - it's just a blatant PR stunt’ publishing 45