Small Wars Journal

Media, Military, and Professional Ethics

Step back in time to 9 February 2005, Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette addresses issues surrounding the media, military, and professional ethics...


Schmedlap (not verified)

Thu, 10/30/2008 - 4:52pm

James - I didn't see anywhere in the article where the author suggests that journalists are un-American or that they should not be independent. But if you did, please enlighten us. The article raises concerns about ethics in journalism. Your concluding snide comment adds nothing to the thread.

I basically agree with Schmedlap's sentiments. As for JamesM's assertion that Schmedlap would be comfortable in a dictatorship, I find this to be a non sequitur. There is nothing in the post to indicate one way or the other.

Also, if you truly rely on the press to "root out corruption, waist (sic), bad ideas or muddle headed" anything, then bless your heart. How quaint. I'm at least mildly amused (I also wonder why the press would be involved in the public WAISTline except for articles on health and wellbeing).

The First Amendment enshrines freedom of speech, whether from a sidewalk preacher, a blog, a newspaper, a political convention, or the halls of the U.S. Senate (God help us if we rely on the Senate). The point is that there is no direct essential correlation between the First Amendment and reliance on the press for protection of our food supplies, baseball, puppy dogs, babies and everything that is good and righteous.

Steve Blair

Thu, 10/30/2008 - 4:08pm

It is also important to remember that journalists bring their own slants, biases, and opinions to ANY story that they cover. To pretend that what they report reflects "truth" and "reality" is disingenuous at best. I would also suggest that, like any other human activity, these biases and slants are aggravated when said journalists begin moving in packs (as in the larger media organizations). Anyone who believes that journalists are only concerned with truth should go back and review the historical record. There are some who are, but there is at least an equal number who are more concerned with ratings, sales, or their own reputations. Does Tailwind ring any bells? Lots of truth and reality in that one, to be sure.

The simple fact is that journalists are no better, and no worse, than any other commentator on events.

The suggestion that journalists are not un-American because they think reporting the facts is more important than promoting the views of the government, or it's army is just hog wash. A smoke screen for your rationalistic viewpoint.
I am quite sure you would find your self at home in the administration of a dictatorship.

The point of journalists is to keep the public informed of what is really happening, and to a large extent that means reporting the 'truth' and the 'reality', not a sugar coated version.

There is a NEED for journalists to find and report the truth, not as you see it, not as the government sees it, but as they see it. In this country we depend on the press to help root out corruption, waist, bad ideas or muddle headed military strategy.

The need for an independent press was seen at the birth of this nation and is enshrined in the constitution. A fact that seems to have escaped your analysis. You need go be recycled for basic high school re-education.

Schmedlap (not verified)

Wed, 10/29/2008 - 10:21pm

If journalism is a profession, then it follows that journalists are serving society by obtaining and reporting news in an even-handed manner for the benefit of society. I don't understand why this requires them to be journalists first and Americans second. That would seem to contradict the very notion that they are part of a profession. If they are journalists first and [insert national allegiance] second, then what society are they serving? I would assert that they are serving themselves, which is why there are now news shows about the news.

Regarding the hypothetical posed to Wallace and Jennings, what service is provided by obtaining footage of an American patrol being ambushed by an enemy force? Does this fulfill society's need for information or is it just a sensational "scoop"?

Suppose that, instead of colluding with the enemy, the report alerts the US patrol and, if the reporter survives, informs the public that, "x US patrol was nearly ambushed at y location today but, as luck would have it, the enemy unit had an American reporter embedded, who alerted the US patrol in time for it to react to the enemy presence." Is this going to paint a significantly difference picture of the situation? I don't think so. It only changes the outcome and explains why the outcome changed. It does not result in a less informed public.