Thursday, January 15, 2009

Should Reporters be Barred from War Zones

Barring reporters from war zones is apparently the novel idea of "Joe the Plumber" - while masquerading as a reporter.

The thesis is that if you don't report the war then the Generals can simply get on with it. This is a simple version of elite theory - that we he masses should just leave the elite to get on with looking after us.

But the history of war reporting andnew communications technology is a long one. We are familiar with the idea of the Vietnam War being the first televised war, and the first Iraq war being the first satellite war. The consequences of that reporting were different mind. But the earliest instance was the impact of the telegraph on the Crimean War. For the first time news of the war was being received as it was waged - resulting in a much lesser appetite for the conflict in Britain.

An article in Ithiel de Sola Pool's Social Impact of the Telephone claims that Alexander raeme Bell wrote that if the telephone had existed at the time of the Civil War that hostilities would never have broken out between North and South. The irony that he was writing in 1915 seems to have escaped him (though in fairness an issue in the start of that war was the reversed order of two telegrams from Billy to Nicky (German Kaiser Willhelm II to his cousin Tzar Nicholas II) which arrived in reverse order of sending credited by some with delaying the Russian advance and lengthening the war).

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