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Since the start of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on 20th of March 2003, the media coverage of this event in traditional and new media has been both intensive and pervasive.

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Introduction

Since the start of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on 20th of March 2003, the media coverage of this event in traditional and new media has been both intensive and pervasive. The issue of whether the war is justified and of whether Saddam Hussein had indeed violated the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 by possessing weapons of mass destruction has been debated in the lead up to the war. By the time the coalition troops moved into Iraqi in a war aimed at toppling the Saddam regime, viewers were unable to escape being bombarded by the onslaught of news and information coming through to them. Front pages of every major newspaper, as well as precious airtime on television and radio network in Sydney and beyond have been devoted to following this war. Even the Internet is awash with breaking news, discussion forums, and every other sort of information not available in the traditional media outlets. With such extensive reporting by all the different media, it is inevitable that the media bias would lead to vastly differing views in war coverage. This is because having so many people involved in this big media event would mean that the personal biases of the media owners as well as the editors and journalists would all affect the way that the news is conveyed. Each one of these media gatekeepers would be privately pro or anti-war, and this would inevitably come across to the public in the way that the news in being reported. ...read more.

Middle

Viewers can now get live feed from the battlefield, and benefit from the first-hand exclusives and war perspectives from the embedded reporters and cameramen who travel with the army regiments and military units. However, this new aspect of war journalism is not without its drawbacks. While viewers do get immediate breaking news coverage, such technological advances have its downsides as well. The immediate streaming of live feeds to TV stations means that viewers are subject to the speculations of the reporters who are stationed in the Gulf before any official confirmation of the news can be received. For example, there was an instance when, according to Pros and Cons of Embedded Journalism (2003: 1): "embedded correspondents for several news organisations reported seeing a convoy of up to 120 Iraqi tanks leaving the southern city of Basra, and most news outlets reported a large troop movement. The next day, a spokesman for the British military said the massive movement was really just 14 tanks." Viewers can also get a distorted view of the war, as it is virtually impossible for the journalists to report the news with in a truly objective and impartial light when they are stationed within the battalions, experiencing camaraderie with the troops and the savouring the excitement of being in the frontline in the midst of all the action. "Objectivity was to include a strict adherence to facts, a healthy scepticism of institutions, and a need to link facts together to form a larger picture of [the war]" (Willis 1991: 60). ...read more.

Conclusion

While news from the traditional forms of media like television, radio and newspapers may be limited by time and space constraints, as well as being highly selective and bias, the emergence of the Internet has made it possible for people to garner information about the war from all angles. This development of technology makes it possible for viewers to get a balanced view of the war through alternate sources from the Internet in the comfort of their homes, "particularly in Australia, where computer ownership and Internet access is becoming widespread" (Singleton et al 2003: 369). The public can now choose to educate themselves by getting both sides of the story, from both the western media, as well as the angle taken by the Gulf media. " Nevertheless, quality coverage and a challenge to political agenda setting will depend on the use of insights from both the domestic and foreign environments to extend the parameters of news coverage, commentary and debate in the Australian media" (Payne 2000: 167). According to investigative journalist John Pilger, (in Propaganda Wars 2003:3), "the quality of the debate is very high among the public...turn to the letters page or ...listen to people in their homes and shops". Instead of taking an apathetic attitude towards this Gulf War, the public has taken a more pro-active stand by organising peace rallies as well as setting up various charities and donations for post-war Iraq. Hence, even though there is some form of media bias present in the pervasive coverage of the war in all forms of media locally, it has nevertheless contributed to the "reasoned debate", and not public hysteria over the war. ...read more.

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