Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
To do their jobs war correspondents deliberately go to the most conflict ridden parts of the world. Once there they attempt go close enough to the actual violence to provide written accounts, photos, or film footage. Being a war correspondent is thus the most dangerous form of journalism. War coverage is also one of the most successful branches. Newspaper sales increase greatly in wartime and television news ratings go up. News organizations have sometimes been accused of warmongering because of the advantages they gather from conflict. William Randolph Hearst is often said to have encouraged the Spanish-American War for this reason. (See Yellow journalism)
Written war correspondents have existed as long as journalism. Before modern journalism it was more common for longer histories to be written at the end of a conflict. The first known of these is Herodotus's account of the Persian Wars, however he did not himself participate in the events. Thucydides, who some years later wrote a history of the Peloponnesian Wars was an observer to the events he described.
It was not until the development of newspapers and magazines that the war corespondent first came into being that the modern form of coverage began. One of the earliest war corespondents was Henry Crabb Robinson, who covered Napoleon's campaigns in Spain and Germany of The Times of London. William Howard Russell who covered the Crimean War also for The Time is often described as the first modern war corespondent. The stories from this era, which were almost as lengthy and analytical as early books on war, took many weeks from being written to being published.
It was not until the telegraph was developed that reports could be sent on a daily basis and events could be reported as they occurred and the short mainly descriptive stories of today became common. The continued progress of technology has allowed live coverage of events via satellite uplinks. The rise of twenty-four hour news channels has led to an insatiable demand for coverage.
Only some conflicts are covered, however. A war in Europe, such as the conflict in the former Yugoslavia receives a great deal of coverage, as does the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or anything involving the troops of the audience's country. Wars in the developing world tend to be ignored. This is because audiences are less interested and these conflicts are also far more dangerous for war correspondents.
Early film and television news rarely had war correspondents. Rather they would simply collect footage provided by other sources, often the government, and the news anchor would then add narration. This footage was often staged as cameras were large and bulky. This changed dramatically with the Vietnam War when networks from around the world sent cameramen with portable cameras and correspondents. This proved damaging to the United States as the full brutality of war became a daily feature on the nightly news.
In later American wars the United States military embarked on efforts to control the media. In the Invasion of Grenada journalists were almost entirely banned. Later in the Gulf War the military found that if exciting, but sanitized, footage could be provided to the media they would use it instead of more expensive and difficult to obtain pictures from the ground. Scenes of air strikes taken from airplanes were especially popular. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq the idea of embedding journalists with troops creating close links between journalists and troops had a similar effect. The military also worked to discourage any non-embedded journalists with dire warnings that their safety could not assured and that they should withdraw. The military has also been accused of targeting journalists in several incidents including; the shelling of the Baghdad offices of Abu Dhabi TV, a missile strike on the Baghdad offices of Al-Jazeera, and the shelling of the Palestine Hotel. Most outlets kept reporters in Iraq along with those embedded with the troops.
See also: Foreign correspondent
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