How Journalism Changes the Tide of War

Journalism has the supreme influence on the audience. When a newspaper reports unstable currency rates, it would cause recession as the audience shakes due to the news; once the media introduce a small trend in society, it could become the sensational vogue nationally, or even internationally. It happens not only in economic and social aspect but also political one as the media can even make nations start war by inflame outrage over each other in particular. Despite the independence from targets of coverage and reporting the truth following their conscience are demanded of all the journalists, this requirement is not always nor any case maintained. In the Russo-Japan War, Vietnam War, and Syrian Civil War, which is now ongoing, the roles journalism played or is playing are more or less, and for better or worse, highly significant.

Before the breakout of Russo-Japan War, the overwhelming majority of the Japanese nation supported opening hostilities over keeping peace as patriotic and nationalistic opinion. A Japanese newspaper called Yorozu-choho (萬朝報) was the bestselling newspaper in Tokyo with its original articles and sharp criticism of the government and society in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. However, after it often carried op-ed articles which suggest pacifism, the sales decreased sharply from 100,000 to 80,000 copies a day. Taking the situation seriously, the high places of the newspaper make the management policy turn 180 degrees around by removing pacifist op-ed and starting carrying martial articles. The decision had a large effect on the business as it finally sold more than 250,000 copies a day. Although the news bureau and writers wanted to maintain their principles and contentions, the economic perspective cannot be neglected since the media are commercial companies as well as private enterprise. Pushing through its belief persistently often leads the corporations to bankruptcy.

On the other hand, there is a case which the media made a war over by pushing through their beliefs. The Vietnam War, where the restriction for journalists was not very strict and many correspondents from around the world gathered at the scene, is even called the war journalism won. In particular, Japanese journalists are known for their strenuous activity as they regretted the state-controlled coverages of the Second World War. Kyoichi Sawada, a Japanese photojournalist, was awarded Pulitzer Prize for his iconic photographs titled “Escape to Safety” and “Muddy Death” taken in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966.

They showed the different perspective from the American government announcement to the world and revealed not only the tragic reality and also injustice of the war. Until then, conflict journalism was written by war correspondents who were behind the governmental soldiers, which could only see through governmental or “official” eyes. At this war, however, quite a few Japanese journalists reported the war condition from the northern Vietnam, which was the target of the United States and regarded as the enemy of American democracy to investigate what was really happening. As a result, the journalists reported the facts which were far apart from the American official releases and it led the American people to charge the government. Eventually, the White House had to pull out the forces of Vietnam.

After the Arab Spring, ISIS realised the importance of public relations and it has been often seen that they try to make good use of it. ISIS had built so-called country and named itself “Islamic State,” placing some what-they-call ministries and governmental offices including media department. The public relations ministry, which was called “Amaq News Agency,” reports the war situation, demands ransom and claims responsibility of terror attack while recruiting the new members. Their technique which appeals Muslim youth who feel outrage at the misunderstandings and discrimination against Islam in the West is very similar to that of each government during the World War II which drove the world into the war. ISIS sensationally used the Internet to promote the unprecedented media terrorism round the world.

Journalism is originally expected to conduct the role as a watchdog on the governmental authority. If there were illegality, they have to report it to accuse injustice at the war. In fact, however, the media cannot always cover the news in their principle because it is important if the audience would like to watch, read or listen the reality to purchase their information as long as the media are merely business companies — it seems one of their limits. Although nevertheless, journalism can change the world. It can lead the nation to war while it also can usher the politicians to their chairs of negotiation. Is your newspaper saying the sober truth? Isn’t it sensationally attack someone to attract the public attention and increase the issue of papers? Calm down, chill out, and be sober. Don’t be at their beck and call.

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