Difficulties Facing Journalists Reporting the “War on Terror”
This essay will focus on illustrating the present difficulties facing by journalists who will report war on terror after the outbreak of 911 and series of terrorism activities around the world, to make us understand the serious status quo of journalism in the warfare time and nations. In the main body part of the essay, it will give us a simple introduction about the background of present global safety and the implementation of “war on terrorism” by the US Government. Then it moves on to illustrate the threats and hardships that have been or will be undertaken by war journalists in their reporting process and give us a detailed analysis of the reason. Then corresponding suggestions are provided in the final part to facilitate the media coverage activities of journalists reporting in those dangerous areas of war and improve the development of press freedom in the world.
The outbreak of September 11 terrorists attack gave the US Government a heavy blow. As a response, the Bush Administration implemented the “war on terror” program immediately after the attack and international coalition gathered for rooting out terrorism has created a dangerous situation, where journalists may be reduced to the victims and targets of terrorists and become key actors of those super powers in reporting events to satisfy the need of the public in understanding the situation in the frontier of battlefield. Journalists have been used as a tool of the government in propaganda and they are being forced to a difficult brim that on one hand, the mass need them to report the progressing of the so-called “war on terrorism” based on press freedom, on the other hand, the actual danger of life and political pressure in reporting may influence their thinking and judgement. Inevitably, the press freedom and pluralism is being gradually undermined by the increasing imperialism of super power countries such as the United States.
First Difficulty–Safety and Health
Journalists are facing dangers when undertaking reporting tasks in those volatile countries and regions. According to the date released by IFJ (International Federation of Journalists), 129 journalists and media staff were killed in 2004, making it the worst year on record for the casualty of journalists. In the Iraq War, more than 50 media staff have been killed by political extremists and criminals (Aidan White, Ben Hayes. 2005. Journalism, Civil Liberties and the War on Terrorism. IFJ. P3). From this we can know that the most dangerous difficulty facing by journalists reporting the “war on terror” is their personal safety. The misunderstanding and hatred between hostile nations gradually press journalists to the teeth of storm since they are the communicator of message. Those terrorists kidnapped and even killed journalists due to their hatred toward the country or government of the journalists and they fell to be the victims of political war. Why so many journalists depart from their home to report in those dangerous countries with no regard of their safety, most of their answers can be categorized to their original pursuit of truth and justice for the world. People all over the world are entitled to know what’s happening on the other side of the world and the real difficulties they are facing. In order to feed the hungry of information of the mass, many journalists have been dispatched to “batterfield” and suffered great difficulty not only in body but also in mind. Feinstein, Owen, & Blair measured the emotional impact of reporting war on journalists and concluded that war journalists suffered from higher extent of depression and PTSD than their fellow traders who did not report on war events. They have to seek for mental health treatment to release inner psychological distress.
Second Difficulty–Press Freedom
Under the political pressure of the United States and its coalitions in “war on terror”, journalists are facing great difficulty in reporting events since the government used the so-called “war on terrorism” to expand its scope of investigation and to restrict press freedom and other civil rights. The unveiling of anti-terrorism increased the curbs and surveillance on free expression, which not only retarded the work of reporters but also negatively affected the basic right as a citizen. For example, the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act promulgated by the US Government just constituted a suppress on free speech in the media and academia while limited civil rights as well. Journalists have gradually departed from original principle of media openness due to the media oppression since jounalists have to “dwell on the attitude and actions of the American government, when the world is full of real villains, might seem unfair, were it not for the immense power and influence that the US wields on the global stage and the effects its policies and example have on so many other countries,” said the WAN President.
Feinstein, A., Owen, J., & Blair, N. (2002). A hazardous profession: War, journalists, and psychopathology. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(9), 1570-1575.
Aidan White. (2002). Journalism And The War on Terrorism. International Federation of Journalists