The Cold War and the Media When discussing the media coverage in light of what we as Americans know now, I chose the so called “Cold War” era. Although there are many different arguments and views about the actual dates that this era occurred, it can be generally said that it took place from the years of 1945 up until the late 80’s and even as recent as the early 90’s. The reason why I chose this era was because many major historical events and civil rights movements occurred during this time. During this time, different races, genders and cultures discovered that they could use media coverage to gain exposure.
One way they did this was to have demonstrations and rallies which weren’t always done positively, but they were useful in gaining sympathizers and national attention. The 1950’s and 60’s might be considered the most significant years of a turbulent time in the America vs. the Soviet Union “Cold War. ” It was at this time that the American people saw the friction across the entire globe. The reason for this was because the government was using the media to strike fear in lives of American citizens through propaganda and false stories.
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Nuclear warfare is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but the American government was feeding the media sensational stories such as how we should protect ourselves from radioactive fallout. In 1951 the government even went as far as doing a university study on how to achieve “emotion management. ” The general public did not know about the studies that were being done to persuade Americans, but what the government had the media print was how to protect your self from the radioactive fallout.
One of their approaches was to involve schools. Teachers in selected cities were encouraged to conduct air raid drills where they would suddenly yell, “Drop! ” and students were expected to kneel down under their desks with their hands clutched around their heads and necks. Some schools even distributed metal “dog tags,” like those worn by World War II soldiers, so that the bodies of students could be identified after an attack. (Duck and Cover, 1952, Film)
The significance of what all this means is that the government was using the media to try and provoke hate and fear against the Russians, even though they knew that getting under your desk would do nothing against nuclear fallout. If they did not necessarily create the forces that propelled the world toward revolution, they certainly tied together the events that defined the year in a way that made people around the world feel part of something that transcended national boundaries.
John Pilger is a strong critic of the institutions and economic forces that structure “mainstream” journalism. He said in an address at (Columbia University on 14 April 2006), “During the Cold War, a group of Russian journalists toured the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions. ” ‘I have to tell you,’ said their spokesman, ‘that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were by and large, the same.
To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don’t have that. What’s the secret? How do you do it? ‘ The media allowed the government to move people to action and inspired them to join in the struggle through persuasion and propaganda. Television, especially, took the more charismatic of the leaders and turned them into individual spokespeople for entire movements; into personalities and celebrities. And, importantly, it served as a medium for dissent. The Whole World is Watching, 2003, University of California Press) Through television, posters, billboards and photos the government used the media to paint a picture in Americans heads that the communistic Soviet Union was going to send a nuclear attack if they did not stand up and do something about it. At this time, the media wasn’t to blame for creating “yellow-journalism” or “gotcha-journalism,” due to the fact that they were actually printing what they believed because of what the government was telling them.
With the speedy use of technology today, and the fact that there are cameras everywhere, the way that the media has evolved is that journalist still visualize fact, but it isn’t stories being spoon fed by the government. For example, a journalist with liberal views on the war now can take a picture of a deceased American soldier in Iraq, write a story about it and its going to invoke hate and fear automatically without having to stretch the truth about anything.
No one is going to look at a picture of a dead soldier and sit back and say that they like war or war is good. On the other hand a republican journalist could take pictures of the Iraqi people that are now in schools and write a story about how well of a job we are doing over there and that could initiate people to think positively of war. Becoming a good journalist means erasing biases and being able to see both sides of the story and being able to argue the facts.