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WWII Field Reporter
3.07.03
Politics and Economy:
Walking the Line: Reporting on War
More on This Story:
Chris Hedges

As foreign correspondent for the NEW YORK TIMES, Chris Hedges covered the Balkans, the Middle East, including the first Gulf War, and Central America. Last year, he was a member of the team of reporters that won the Pulitzer Prize for THE NEW YORK TIMES' coverage of global terrorism. He now writes the column, "Public Lives."

In his book, WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING, Chris Hedges reflects on what he calls "the myth of war" — the idea of heroism, patriotism and glory in battle that doesn't necessarily match the reality of combat. He writes, "In mythic war we fight absolutes. We must vanquish darkness. It is imperative and inevitable for civilization, for the free world, that good triumph, just as Islamic militants see us as infidels whose existence corrupts the pure Islamic society they hope to build."

Having seen the reality of mayhem and violent death in the Balkan Peninsula, the Middle East, and Central America, Hedges learned about the fine line one walks when reporting war. He writes, "Mythic war reporting sells papers and boosts ratings. Real reporting, sensory reporting, does not, at least not in comparison with the boosterism we witnessed during the Persian Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan." When the language of reporting propagates the myth of war, Hedges warns, the result is justification of "what is often nothing more than gross human cruelty and stupidity." The challenge of war reporting has long faced journalists in times of unrest. Read more of what has been written about war reporting:

Institute for War and Peace Reporting
The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) aims to contribute to the resolution of conflict and to the strengthening of civil society, democracy and the rule of law. IWPR is an educational and development charity which supports independent media in regions in transition — the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Central Asian States. IWPR's site carries weekly reports from journalists and analysts in the regions providing unrivaled insight from contributors at the heart of these changing societies. Links and archives offer access to information about the regions' past and present.

"Is Truth a Victim?"
In an interview with the BBC's NEWSNIGHT, Dan Rather of CBS, says the U.S. media has stopped asking tough questions of the Bush administration since September 11th and he blames a climate of extraordinary patriotism. The CBS anchorman says that fear of offending the politicians "keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions" and adds, "I do not except myself from this criticism."

Journalism in a Time of War
An extensive collection of commentaries and articles from Journalism.org about the media's handling of the impending war in Iraq.

Lies, Deceit and Hypocrisy
This site is one Northwestern University history major's study of the journalism in the early part of the Vietnam War, 1962-63. The Saigon correspondents reported that the South Vietnamese and their American advisers were losing the war against the VietCong and their North Vietnamese allies. The reports the correspondents sent home were not very popular in the Pentagon and the Saigon establishment.

Newseum: War Stories
In "War Stories," leading journalists discuss what they have seen and heard while covering major conflicts, including what it is like to be a war correspondent. The web site includes a war timeline, a history of war reporting, and exhibit information. The Newseum, the interactive museum of news, featured "War Stories" exhibit from May 18 to November 11, 2001.

""News Industry Plans for War and Worries About Lost Ads"
In THE NEW YORK TIMES from February 10, 2003, David D. Kirkpatrick takes a look at the potential effects of war on the American media industry.

Preparing For War
Printed in the AMERICAN JOURNALISM REVIEW in March 2003, this article by Sherry Ricchiardi takes a look at journalists gearing up for the possibility of war. With time running out in Iraq, journalists underwent hostile-environment training, struggled to get into shape — and debated whether the Pentagon would keep its promises of greater openness during combat.

"Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent's View"
Tom Gjelten gives a brief history of war reporting and his opinion on the role of the news media in building up the drama of war.

Reporting war: dispatches from the front
Kate Adie, the BBC's chief news correspondent, gave this talk on the ethics of war reporting as one of the 1998 Vauxhall Lectures at Cardiff University in Wales, UK.

"Today's war reporting: It's digital, but dangerous"
Kim Campbell, staff writer of THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, discusses the present and future of war journalism.

War Reporting: Tips and Myths
Allison Hoffman reports on a discussion of war reporting by a journalism panel on the anniversary of reporter Daniel Pearl's death.

The Writing 69th
This site looks at the group of journalists, including Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney, who covered the 8th Air Force in World War II.

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