Monday, 22 August 2011

The role of the media in the Libyan war

The role of the media in reporting conflict seems to have crossed a significant point into pure agit-prop during the Libyan conflict. It is not that this has never been the case, after all the media has always been selective in what it can and what it chooses to report, but it seems to have moved on from partial reporting to active participation.

With media now broadcasting to a global market, it's no longer a case of keeping the folks back home selectively in the dark, but rather feeding propaganda into the very theatre of operations.

Also worrying is the trend, very prevalent in this conflict, of seeing independent reporters in the same light, i.e. as a combatant - an enemy combatant. The message is clear: any journalist not on our side, better watch out. If they get out alive, they may be pursued with legal action for taking money from the enemy regime. Don't expect such action to stretch as far as the many political leaders who lapped up the milk and honey back when Gaddafi was a man we could do business with.

Nato attacked Libyan television, as they had attacked Serbian television some years before. In the Libyan case, we were told this was a legitimate target in a campaign ostensibly to protect civilians. Are the journalists playing this game aware that such logic blows both ways?

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