Patriotic Coverage  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   June 2003

Patriotic Coverage   

By Unknown
     


Kudos on your comprehensive look at media coverage of the war in Iraq, especially your focus by Jacqueline Sharkey and Deborah Potter on the myopia and jingoism of television news reporting (May). Unlike so many other superficial treatments of this subject, yours attempted to hold U.S. television networks to a higher standard rather than embracing the common prejudice of print journalists that television's flaws are inherent in the medium.

In fact, history shows that an excess of patriotic zeal has been the rule, not the exception, among all journalistic mediums during wartime--the fault not of technology but of the people who use it. As broadcasting's patron saint, Edward R. Murrow--who was more often quoted than emulated--famously said: "Television can illuminate, it can teach, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to these ends. Otherwise, it is merely lights and wires in a box."

Mark Feldstein
Associate professor
School of Media & Public Affairs
George Washington University
Washington, D.C.

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