Then and Now — Do History and Journalism Repeat Themselves? (Part 3)

Using news, television news in particular, to make money caught on with the success of the news magazine. Straying from just hard news into a mix of topics, they inserted themselves into putting together the story, and took a new pacing and look to create a new genre. The news magazine program still exists today, but as cable channels try to draw in more viewers during prime time and late night (just as 60 Minutes became prime time ) with political commentary programs such as Hannity or The O’Reilly Factor (Fox News.)

Other genres such as comedy have even found a way to use the news to be funny or satirical like self declared “Fake News” shows The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, making fun of politicians, celebrities, and parties alike. The important news meant to inform the audience with the facts may still exist on television, but are now competing and sometimes overshadowed by entertainment and news that leans towards what you want to hear. 60 Minutes may have been the drama of the righteous quest with a social purpose, but now prime time news related programs are more to draw in viewers with opinions or humor. Is it just the capitalist quest with a financial purpose?

nofactzone.net

nofactzone.net

News making money was just one way the line between news and business started to blur and make radical changes to the newspaper industry. In the 60s and 70s newspaper began going public to make money. It resulted in the need to appeal to a mass audience and advertisers in order to fund news gathering, changing the business model that supported journalism.

Today, with the prevalence and amount of different news sources online, information and news seems to have gone extremely public in a way: now anyone can write it and post it, digital first and other non-legacy companies have formed online, and news can be accessed by smaller and smaller devices from almost anywhere…for free. This has been a devastating change to the business model that supported newspapers through subscriptions and ads. Why pay for a paper when you can go online, even get the news online from that papers’ s website? Why pay for an ad in the paper when you can post on Craig’s List for free? Papers are still struggling (some shutting down or going to only three days a week instead of a daily paper) to respond to this shift to the Internet. No longer are legacy, traditional news sources the only source of news and no longer do Americans have to pay to learn more.

yourbellalife.com

yourbellalife.com

Then and Now — Do History and Journalism repeat themselves?

At a first glance, it might be hard to see how World War II and the War on Terror have much in common politically, on the home front, or in the field of journalism. Looking at those differences more closely can help show how technology has changed the way Americans receive and participate in journalism in times of war, and how that can have a political, historical impact on the world.

Take, for example, comparable big moments, big stories that seem sure to warrant huge, bold headlines. Both wars start (for the United States) with a sudden act of violence against unsuspecting Americans – Pearl Harbor and the 9/11. While troubles may have been raging throughout the rest of the world all along, it suddenly became personal and impossible to ignore once it came to American turf.

Juliana Smith, blogs.ancestry.com

What is striking is how different the initial response was for each. For Pearl Harbor, at a time with less preparedness and protocol for handling war news, naval officials declared a news black out, seizing all forms of communication between the Hawaiian islands and the mainland. One United Press report slipped out before the censors blocked it though:

HONOLULU, Dec. 7 (UP) – War broke with lightning suddenness in the Pacific today, when waves of Japanese bombers assailed Hawaii and the United States Fleet struck back with a thunder of big naval rifles.

The story came to Americans from Washington and the White House, and FDR’s administration controlled how much Americans knew, acknowledging the surprise attack but claiming only one old battleship was sunk and that heavy causalities were inflicted on the Japanese. The White House could manipulate what people knew to manipulate how they felt about it, taking years and investigations letter for the full story to come out.

Compare this to the first time you heard about the Twin Towers on 9/11. Perhaps it was told through another person, but where did they find out? Maybe word of mouth, maybe they were in the car and on the radio, but what everyone remembers and has burned into their visual memory is what they saw on TV: live video of the Towers burning, the second plane crashing, and seeing them fall.

Even the huge headlines in the many days that followed the attack and the accompanying pictures on a front page cannot compare to those videos, whether they were seen live or not. The broadcast journalism was not well crafted as the event happened and as the new broadcasts learned more information, but Americans across the country were glued to the coverage none the less. Why the drastic differences?

Location: At the time of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was not yet a state. Even more, it was an island far isolated from the mainland, and though unsuspecting, was a military facility. 9/11 was an attack that wanted to be seen– in the most populous city in America, at some of the tallest buildings in the world, on unarmed civilians. Even without journalistic communications, one had a much greater impact as far as eye witnesses who lived to tell the tale.

Technology: No matter where the attacked happened, television news could bring the event into your house or onto your computer instantly. You saw it and responded to it in a way that cannot be manipulated the same way words or radio prepared in advance can. Live video from the source versus the time it takes to craft text was more instant and less filtered.

Furthermore, New Yorkers with cameras or camera phones could upload footage to the internet or send it to news channels. Even if the collective media or the government had wanted to cover up the significance, it was no longer so easily in their hands. The scale needed to block all communications would be more extensive and would likely have been treated as more outrageous.

fineartamerica.com

fineartamerica.com

The wars that followed these sparks are worth looking at as far as journalistic freedom and American response/participation – while WWII is famous for its propaganda encouraging Americans to help in the effort (“Loose Lips Sink Ships” or Rosie the Riveter’s “We can do it!”), what they didn’t know certainly changed how they felt about it and their level of support.

Today it seems outrageous to hear of the level of censorship about the war with pictures, videos and newscasts being sent to quickly and easily through television and the internet. Bias and filtering still exists, but the internet also allows Americans to participate in their opinions by contributing their opinions in different ways (blogs, social media conversations, websites, etc.)

blogsforbush.com

war_is_terrorism_with_a_bigger_budget

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