• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16

The Role and Importance of the Media in Vietnam

Extracts from this document...


Vlad Lodoaba IB HISTORY HL COURSEWORK The Role and Importance of the Media in Vietnam Word Count: 2825 Contents: 1 -Introduction p3 2-The Media and The Government p3 3-The Media and Public Opinion p8 4-Conclusion p13 5-Appendix (images) p14 (all images are (c) their respective owners) 6-Bibliography p15 1-Introduction I will not try to deal in this essay with the media's coverage of the Vietnam war. That would be impossible, if not because of the sheer volume of information, coming from one news agency only, because of the diversity of information and not seldom the contradictory facts different reporters and news agencies present. There were more than 6501 accredited journalists in Vietnam between 1964 and 1973. I will try to analyze, in as much depth as the scope of the essay allows, the relations between the media and government and military officials, the impact the media had on the American public and lastly 1 will try to establish whether it was indeed the media that lost the war for the United States. My use of primary sources (specially the newspapers of the times or TV footage of the war) however will be limited, because of the difficult access to such sources as well as the limited perspective they offer in relation to the "bigger picture" of the war. 2-The Media and the Government With regards to the media, the Vietnam war has been known as the "living-room war". It was the first TV war2, a war in which the footage from one day's battle would be in millions of Americans' rooms within twelve hours, and it has been maintained that it was indeed this very close media coverage that influenced public opinion, eventually turning it against the war. ...read more.


It simply made it more aware of what was going on in Vietnam, and even at that point, many Americans still wanted an escalation, rather than a de-escalation of the war7. What probably made the relations between the media and the military so difficult was the outrageous optimism of many superior officers. Gen. Harkins, the commander of the MCAV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) between 1962-1964, was characterized by an unrealistic optimism and Halberstam writes - the high command of the MCAV became a place "isolated and eventually insulated from reality". It is worthwhile noting that many of the superior officers now were junior officers in World War II, which was eventually catastrophic for two reasons: firstly it was inconceivable for them that America, the world's super-power could lose a war, and secondly they were by no means able to make feasible decisions in a war they had never seen before, such as the guerilla and psychological warfare in Vietnam. The ever-optimistic Harkins was replaced in 1964 by Gen. W. Westmoreland. Although more realistic, it was difficult even for him to asses the situation without any front lines. Westmoreland was also a believer in "the big war" and an attrition warfare that would eventually exhaust "Communist" resources. In his relations to the media, however, he was by no means friendly and he took every chance he got to criticize the press, specially David Halberstam and Maleom Brown especially: Finding fault was one way to achieve the sensational and finding fault with an oriental regime with little background in or respect for Western style democracy was easy ...when their peers back home rewarded them with a shared Pulitzer price, the pattern for those who followed was set. ...read more.


Also what people tend to ignore today is that the photograph of the VC suspect being shot was contextualized so as to aid the US effort, and it was presented as the execution of a member of the VC suspected for several American deaths. When it comes to photographs, it was not the images themselves, but their subsequent incorporation in the anti-war effort that created the illusion that the written press was against the war. Pictures as these, argues Caroline Brothers, have been taken as early as 1962, but were widely rejected by the editors exactly because of their contents, which was not compatible with what the public wanted to see at that time. It appears, therefore, that the images that changed history can only surface when the mood of the public is ripe, hence they exist to reflect and not influence public opinion towards war. 4-Conclusion It is easy to accuse the media for the loss of public support in Vietnam. After thc media's massive blunder of reporting the Tet offensive as a major psychological defeat, and not having "the sophistication, integrity or courage to admit their error"14 (which is actually justifiable by the distrust the media had for official reports) opposition to war rose sharply. Still, the media cannot be singled out as the main cause. Nicholas Hopkinson's statement is the one that probably best reflects the situation of the media in Vietnam: As public enthusiasm faded, reporting became more and more critical[...] but to single the media out as the decisive element in declining public opinion is incorrect. US opinion turned against the war because it was long unsuccessful, costly in terms o/human life and expenditure. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Superpower Relations 1945-90

    In 1958 it was expanded to include China, North Korea, North Vietnam and Mongolia and in 1964 an International Bank of Economic Collaboration was established. c. In 1977 Cuba had joined. Cuba depended almost totally on the Soviet Union for aid.

  2. To what extent can it be argued that the use of guerilla warfare tactics ...

    Unfortunately for the Americans, their superior firepower was useless in the conditions that Vietnam produced and this also frustrated the troops. The bombing runs were ruthless and inaccurate. Many of the most famous images to come out of the Vietnam War were ones portraying the horror of napalm attacks.

  1. American History.

    This, of course, caused changes in the Americas. So here goes... - In West Africa, where the coastal rulers served as the essential link between the Europeans and the slaves, slavery caused increased centralization b/c the trade created powerful kingdoms.

  2. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    then pushed north and captured all of Lebanon south of the Litani River, inflicting thousands of casualties. The operation had failed to break the power of the PLO in the south and soon the PLO was able to rearm and fortify its bases in southern Lebanon to the point where Fatahland could boast the equivalent of five infantry brigades.

  1. America In Vietnam, 1953-73

    to lie face down to the ground so that they would not suffocate during long bombardments. 6. SUCCESSFUL VC/NVA STRATEGY/TACTICS Another factor in favour of the Vietcong was that they could hide as civilians. Ambassador Ha Van Lau said, "Our fighters moved and worked among the people like fish in water".

  2. The Vietnam War – G.C.S.E. History Coursework

    Haggard's unjust, stereotypical opinion of the AWM can be traced back to his political bias and his blindness to the variety that can be found among AWM members. The sources that oppose his view are more compelling and reliable than those which support his view.

  1. War Photography

    For example, when Princess Diana died, the Paparazzi still took photos of her dead body even when the officials refused them. This is an example of the intrusion that photographers make on private grief. Furthermore, People are unaware of what photographers experience in their jobs.

  2. Did the TET offensive (1968) impact the conflict in Vietnam

    ?This anti-war movement had a great impact on American foreign policy and essentially forced the US out of Vietnam?..By 1968, protesters numbered almost seven million with more than half being white youths in college." With vast numbers protesting against the war, it became clear to the government that it was not in their best interest to stay in the war.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work