The military is easy to love from afar, but the disconnect ultimately threatens national security. One way to increase understanding and knowledge about the military among an uninformed public is to leverage the influence of media and entertainment. But both media coverage and the growing ecosystem charity and advocacy campaigns often confuse rather than comprehensively educate the public on the issues facing service members.
Such oversimplification of service members and veterans is common: Despite some recent attempts by networks to launch military television shows, almost all have been cancelled after one season. Enlisted , a comedy about enlisted soldiers on a military base, was cancelled in its first season due to low ratings despite positive reception in the military community. All the other shows fit into the Hollywood combat hero stereotype.
The modest success, limited following, and lack of critical acclaim of these shows points to a broader lack of understanding among the American public necessary to engage with it or laugh at it. In addition to the lack of nuanced military-themed shows, television is sorely lacking in complex depictions of military service or complex, multi-faceted veteran characters.
Critical work by RethinkVets and Got Your 6 has been designed to challenge misconceptions and narratives. RethinkVets , an arm of the Heinz Endowment, works in the Pennsylvania region to drive better outcomes for service members and to change the belief that service members are broken heroes.
Got Your 6 backed up these studies by creating 6 Certified , a program to evaluate and encourage more normalized media depictions of veterans. Personal accounts of the war in Afghanistan and the many conflicts that erupted in the post-Soviet zone Chechnya, Moldova and Nagorno-Karabakh were given pluralistic treatment in the press in the s. Their careers reveal the tensions and controversies they encountered and the compromises they devised.
The Media's Narrow Portrayal Of Service Members Is A Disservice To The Military
Some Soviet military journalists escaped from the control of their former employers to join the civilian media such as Aleksandr Golts. Others stayed put but altered their vision of the armed forces and modified their editorial line. These careers and practices became more diverse, and Ivan Chupin describes two conceptions of the work: In response, the military authorities attempted to keep control of these changes by sending their own journalists to write for civilian publications 9.
However, their control was losing its force. New professionals were appearing in the war journalist community. Foreign correspondents went out to operational areas in the former Soviet Union and established relations with Russian journalists see the account by war photographer Yuri Tutov.
These new arrangements raised the issue of the relations and exchanges between journalists of various origins and the specific constraints imposed on them.
Military in the media
This period also saw women arriving in military journalism. This diversification brought plurality into the treatment of military information. Allenova describes her growing awareness of the criminal abuses of the anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya. These journalists displayed their independence of judgement in a changing military world. More recently, since the early s, this independence has increased as a result of new information and communication technologies that extend the range of journalistic practice.
Reduced technical constraints, miniaturisation of recording devices, and speed of transmission lead to faster circulation of information, including from war zones. The possibilities available to military journalists seem therefore to be widening.
Andrei Raskin, journalism professor at the RGGU, listed the new difficulties facing military journalism at the present time. He said that untrained journalists are often sent to report on hostilities, showing great independence but at the risk of their personal safety. He expressed concern at the presence in operational theatres of independent journalists of uncertain status, given great freedom but little protection by their editorial managers. Raskin described a certain distrust in the armed forces towards independent journalists.
But the military authorities are also aware of the need to work with journalists.
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More flexible types of constraint, often inspired by Western practice, are being tried out by the military institutions. Embedment enables journalists to be at the heart of events and broadcast authentic factual accounts of warfare but does raise the question of their surveillance 10 and official exploitation of them at times of crisis The communication practice was developed by the Russian army during the Second Chechnya War from on. Journalists may even appreciate being enrolled in this way.
This reference to the Great Patriotic War is used to justify current cooperation arrangements between the armed forces and journalists. In the early s, a large number of laws were passed to control the activities of newspapers, their editorial staff and the independent journalists who produce blogs now deemed to be mass media if they have more than 3, hits a day.
Although direct institutional constraint in the form of censorship has disappeared, political control over military journalists has taken on a variety of new forms. Violence against critical independent journalists the murders, for example, of Dmitri Kholodov and Anna Politkovskaya illustrates the dangers of the profession. In the past three years, journalists have been killed in Russia according to Arapova. This conflict, widely covered by print and digital media, is also one of the most dangerous for journalists and most closely monitored in media terms.
In this undeclared war, involving anti-terrorist operations, guerrilla warfare and undercover counter-espionage, the control over military journalism and war reporting is variable and may even be absent.
Because there has been no official declaration of war, the system of embedding journalists with the armed forces is not operational. News reporting therefore depends on the initiative of special correspondents, accounts by members of the public, part-time and citizen journalism, web posts and blogs open to more than one interpretation. The ill-defined nature of the current conflict and doubts about the identity of its protagonists place journalists from outside in a dangerous position.
The victims of the conflict come from every category of journalist of whatever nationality Russian, Ukrainian or Western or media television, radio, print. These measures restricting access to the theatre of operations allow the most divergent interpretations of the military situation. In the absence of any clear institutional, legal or political framework, the new freedoms afforded by post-Soviet liberalisation and new media have not automatically led to a pluralistic coverage of military events but do endanger both journalists and the pluralism of information.
Military journalism is thus a reflection of the social and political transformations that have occurred in contemporary Russia and its areas of intervention. But this degree of subjectivity comes at a higher cost than elsewhere in the absence of any effective public procedures for protecting its authors. Palmer, Media at war. The Iraq crisis, London, Sage, Bizimana, "Les relations militaires-journalistes: Sieca-Kozlowski, "From controlling military information to controlling society: Field Practices and Legal Regulations.