Extended Essay History: How did the US media reporting of the Vietnam War out of context influence the American public?

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Topic: Reporting the Vietnam War.

How did the US media reporting of the Vietnam out of context influence the American public

Session: May Subject: History

Title: How did the US media reporting of the Vietnam War out of context influence the American public?

Citations Used: MLA Fon1rnt Word Cou nt: 3657

Table of Contents

Cover Page        1

Introduction        4

Body        Paragraphs        4

Conclusion        15

Bibliography        .................................u.         16

How did the US media reporting of the Vietnam War out of context influence th American public?

The Vietnam War is an extremely interesting war. The war, which began in 1955 and ended approximately 20 years later in 1975, was act1mlly  a civil  war. Intervention  and aid was provided by the United States to South Vietnamese forces to help fight against the communist north Vietnamese forces. The media in the Vietnam War can be divided into different sub categories. There are the reporters in the  field who would  work tirelessly  to get the  latest  information  back to the US. The news agencies in the US would then interpret  the  infom1ation  themselves  and create the news that would be given to the US public, using the mediums of television, radio and newspaper. In previous wars, the US media had always been censored. For example, propaganda was used in the Second World War to help ensure public support. When the Vietnam War started, US media censorshi p was not imposed, putting the US media that was reporting  in a foreign country under a great deal of responsibility that it had not previously possessed. This raises the question of how the US media took war  events out of context, and how  significant  of an impact this had on the American people's perception of the war

The US media portrayed the Vietnam War as primarily an American war because it did not fully understand the context in which the Vietnam War  was taking place due to two primary reasons. First, the South Vietnamese government did not have a public relations apparatus and were not


really interested in opening themselves up to foreign media (Braestrup 27).  Second, the m  of the US media reporting from the field in Vietnam found themselves in a foreign countr where the local population spoke a different language, making it difficult to accurately  co the South Vietnamese side of the war (Braestrup 28). As a result, the US reporters receive information about the South Vietnamese primarily from US advisors (Ramsey 56). Howe reality was that the South Vietnamese were fighting just as hard as their American allies. example, the US Department of Defense released casualty statistics for  1967 showing that the United States had lost 9,738 troops that year, the South Vietnamese forces had lost 12 (Braestrup 26). This shows us how the US media by not understanding the context  in whi war . was taking place, gave the American and other readers of the US media the impressio the Vietnam War was an American war. The impact that this had is very significant. becau would affect their perception of the war. The American public would  be less likely to  see t as a war for South Vietnamese freedom. The focus of the American media also affected th

in other ways.

My investigation will focus on methods used by journalists and organisations when reporting Vietnam War. Some of the key resources that I am planning to use are books that journalists on the Vietnam War published after the war was over.

prior wars, censorship played an important role in the reporting  by the US media  because led to such reporting focusing on US victories rather than  defeats, the Vietnam  War becam of the first uncensored covered by the media in a long time, even the Korean war had its censorship (Mark). Having an uncensored press available to report on the Vietnam  War al the US media to bring much more of its bias and prejudices into the topics on which they


reporting. The US media's tendency to report on US military defeats in the Vietnam War rather than on their victories illustrates  another manner  in which  the US media rep1ied  on Vietnam War events out of context. A good example of this biased reporting by taking events out of

   context can be seen during the famous Tet offensive in 1968 when the Vietcong launched a major     offensive against the South Vietnamese. The offensive was repelled quite effectively, however, in  the process four American planes were shot down. While the crashes and burning wreckages were widely broadcasted on American television creating a very vivid and lasting

impression in the minds of millions of US viewers, the US media said very little about the successful stopping of a major Vietcong offensive. To make matters worse, General

Westmoreland had been reassuring the press about how weak the Vietcong were and just one month earlier he had  assured  the American  public  that the war had  almost been  won. Instead of broadcasting the successful defeat of the Vietcong in a major battle, the US media broadcast images of the bodies of Vietcong soldiers who had breached the security perimeter of the American Embassy (Caputo 74). This is yet another example of US media reporting  on events out of context, with the US media only focused on the failings of the US military  and  not  the fact that the US military managed to effectively repel a major offensive. This led the American public to doubt General Westmoreland 's earlier statement about America's military success in Vietnam. and question how weak the Vietcong actually were.

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It is important to note that while the US media reported on events out


of context in their reporting of the Tet Offensive, they still very much supported the American war eff  in Vietnam. This support, however, changed following the Tet Offensive. An example of this change support can be seen when looking at statistics of the percentage


of battles reported by the US media as US military victories. Before the Tet Offensive, the US media classified approximately 62% of the battles as being US military victories and 28% ...

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