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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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14

The Relationship between the Media, the Military, and the Public

Examining the Stories Told and Public Opinion

Michel M. Haigh

ABSTRACT

The media play an important role in times of conflict. How the media tell the story influences the public. This chapter discusses the relationship between the media, the military, and the public. Topics examined include the historical relations between the press and the military, the impact of embedded reporters during the war in Iraq, how visual images of war impact public support for the war, how media coverage impacts public opinion, and how nontraditional forms of media such as late night comedy and military blogs impact the public's knowledge and attitudes.

Media and War

The media play an important role in times of conflict. The stories, photos, blogs, and jokes used to discuss the war may influence the knowledge the public has about war, their attitudes toward war, and their opinion about war. One recent example is when the Bush administration blamed the media for eroding public support of the Iraq War. When the Iraq War started in 2003, more than 70% of US citizens supported it (Benedetto, 2003). By June 2007, 70% of US citizens opposed the Iraq War (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com). Bush stated the stories about Iraq were negative and failed to depict progress (Cloud, 2005), and this negativity led to a decline in public support.

The relationship between the press and the military can be turbulent. The public relies on the media ...

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