War coverage

Raw notes:

  • Who the hell, on a nice day like this, wants to talk about war? War is such a downer.
  • We’ve been at war forever in America—you could say it’s as American as apple pie.

o We fought like Indians against the British, we used terrorist tactics.

  • If there was a draft, war would be a much bigger deal on campus. Many would volunteer, many would get upset.
  • There are as many private contractors working in Afghanistan as there are soldiers.

o We’ve outsourced war. These contractors fight.

  • We seem to have plenty of money to fight these wars, despite economic downturns.
  • This should be a big-picture, philosophical look on what it means to cover war.
  • Everybody has a world view—the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
  • These questions impact your world view:

o What is the world like? The universe: a friendly place? A dangerous place?

o What are your core values?

o How do you see human nature? Good? Bad? Both?

o Do you believe in God?

o Are you a citizen of the world before you are a citizen of the U.S.?

o In covering war, are you a journalist first and a citizen of the U.S. second? The other way around?

o What is your view of authority?

o Is war simply inevitable?

o There are morality and ethics, and there is law. When it comes down to it, what matters to you the most? And when it comes to the law, where do you stand on the letter vs. the spirit?—literal vs. loose interpretations of the Constitution; some people see it as a “living document.”

o What is truth? What is the truth? Is truth relative? Absolute?—this is a core value of journalism.—what’s right and true in one situation may not be in another?

  • Combat: it’s a real adrenaline rush. A lot of the vets never get over the fact that they won’t get an adrenaline rush like that. Whether they need more or they are depressed, anything else.
  • Where does WikiLeaks fall in terms of legal and moral standards?
  • What objectivity means in terms of objectivity:

o When journalists talk about objectivity, we’re talking about the news story. It’s free of the journalist’s opinion and it’s from an independent source. Stories are objective when they can be checked against some kind of record.

  • The U.S. government has to respond to huge numbers of civilians getting killed in Iraq, The government tends to play down the number; albeit the low number is still a high one even when it’s played down.
  • It’s important to report the truth about the fact. (1947 academic report). Context and background. Context and background. Context and background.
  • How do we know whether Iran is really attacking Israel? You have to read a lot.
  • How does the student press cover this?

o How are campuses changing as vets begin to attend classes?

o Are the vets being treated well by the V.A.?

o What do you have to do to prove to the V.A. that you have disabilities?

o Is there an anti-war movement on this campus?

o Do your students support the war in Afghanistan?

§ “Well we didn’t come here to lose?”

o Do any professors feel like their academic freedom has been restricted?

  • How do we define terrorism?
  • College journalism and war:

o We are there to learn. “I’ve been paid for forty years to go to school.” We’re learning and we’re going to make mistakes. There are going to be people who don’t like what you do.

  • The wounded veterans are an area we tend to ignore. “We’re still taking care of vets from Vietnam.”
  • Embedding sounded good at first, but then a lot of the journalists had to make themselves part of the culture and it made it harder to step back and report on war.

o They pretty much just have to follow their units.

o Embedded journalists are crap, says vet who is at the session: Americans and terrorists are manipulating the press. Is it even possible to not be manipulated?

§ “The combat comes home with you, but the downtime… that’s ridiculous.” — Vet in the room.


The Forever War

Sabastian Younger’s book, “War”

Dispatches from Beyond The Green Zone

Military Resistance



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