Television's Reporting of the Iraq War: Reflexivity or Ratings?
AbstractTelevision's reporting of the Iraq war: reflexivity or ratings? There's a provocative moment in Tom Wolfe's 1998 play, Ambush at Fort Bragg, when the producer of an investigative report uses cutting edge digital technology to manipulate the events depicted in the rushes. This covert, unscrupulous editing is a far cry from the overt and explicit reflections on the processes of war reporting witnessed during recent coverage of events in Iraq. Who remembers seeing journalists on air reflecting on their practices in the last Gulf War? This March, the face of Richard Sambrook, the BBC's director of News, appeared on our screens nearly as often as that of Rageh Omaar. On an unprecedented level, senior journalists have been candid about their difficulties in establishing what was true, in a war that was being fought as much in the media as it was in the so-called 'theatre'. At each stage during the rolling stream of text and images in real time from the war zone, it was easy to hit upon some running commentary in print, online or on air from senior editors justifying their precarious judgements. With each new reported 'liberation' or incident of 'friendly fire', executives were simultaneously