It was the first “living room war. ” People watched footages of combat on nightly news. It was the first war where television played a significant role. Background of the war: Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, which earlier formed ‘Indochina’ was ruled by France until World War II. After the war, the French wanted to regain their rule over these places, which were now Communist. Ho Chi Mini, who was the national leader in China and had declared Vietnam as an independent country, had to fight the French in a war along with his followers. This war ended with the French losing and Vietnam getting divided into two parts.
The communists reigned over the northern part and the French supporters continued to rule over the southern region. However, the government of South Vietnam was extremely poor and people were against it too. Due to this, the North Vietnam army began attacking South Vietnam. This was during Cold War and America was against communism, therefore John F. Kennedy, the then president of USA sent his troops in South Vietnam to help them in the war foreseeing that if South Vietnam also turned Communist then slowly the whole region would also transform into the same.
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Believing that their odder technology and ammunition would help them win, over the years, many American soldiers were sent to Vietnam to fight the war. However, the style of counter attacking by the North Vietnam army and the Viet Congo (a political organization in South Vietnam that fought against its own army and the US troops) was different. They used guerrilla tactics and attacked them by surprise. They also had the benefit of being more familiar with the territory.
End of the war: The American population, for the first few years of the war were in full support of the decision to be anti-communist. However, when they realized that more and more of their soldiers were getting sacrificed in this bloodshed, they slowly retracted their decision. Moreover, due to the continuous coverage of the war by media, Americans sitting at home could see the non- stop carnage taking place in Vietnam. By 1 968, almost everyone at home wanted to stop sending more troops to Vietnam. Anti-war protests started taking place all over the country.
By 1968, Americans had made it clear that they did not want their country to be anti-communist and support the war. President Lyndon Johnson called back most of the troops. Also, USA supported South Vietnam who was clearly losing out on the war due to lack of a good army or government and also the incessant attacks by Viet Congo and the North Vietnamese army. Finally, in 1 973, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Viet Congo and the United States of America he signed a peace treaty. North Vietnam and Viet Congo however did not abide by it and continued to attack South Vietnam.
Civilians fled from there to escape the attacks. The war was officially over in 1975 when Saigon was captured by the North Vietnam communist troops causing South Vietnam to surrender. In 1976, North and South Vietnam rejoined forces under a communist government. This was the first time in history that USA had lost a war. Media coverage of the war: The media, as always, played a pivotal role in shaping the public opinion during the course of the war. This war began around the same time when television became a necessity in the American household.
Everyone was glued to their TV screens because it became a vital source of information. Newspapers were obviously another natural source, but the visuals provided by the television made the war seem more real. In fact, in a survey conducted y the Roper Organization for Television Information conducted in the year 1964 showed that 58% viewed the television whereas 56% relied on newspapers when Vietnam War was the major news. The same survey conducted towards the end of the war, in 1972 showed that 64% watched television whereas 50% read newspapers when it came to Vietnam War.
Because of these statistics, the Vietnam War was also termed ‘The Living Room Watt by Michael Arleen, a writer who wrote the book on the war by the same name. Literally, the war could be seen by everyone in their living room due to the uncensored broadcast by the media of all the violence taking place n Vietnam. The unrestricted broadcasting by the media paved way for a change in the attitude of Americans who initially supported the involvement Of their country in the war. When the war started and America decided to join forces with South Vietnam against communism, people believed it was the right thing to do.
Several troops were sent to Vietnam by John Kennedy, but no definitive number was known as any media personnel or correspondents were not stationed at the sight of the war until 1961 when Malcolm Brown from the Associated Press went to Vietnam to report. He was followed by porters of the New York Times David Halberds, Homer Bogart and Peter Aren’t. Since this was the first time that the media could, without any control, broadcast and report all that it wanted to, it took the liberty to portray everything factually, including certain gruesome details and images.
Broadcast Media: Clearly, Television reports had the most impact on the people. Since the war began, all the major TV channels In USA namely BBC, CBS, NBC covered the war. The simple reason that television had more hold on people during the war is that the visuals made them believe the gripping reality of the situation. Initially all the coverage by broadcast media was encouraging of the American President and his decision to take part in the war. Media believed the principles against anti-communism and therefore supported the American soldiers, portraying them as heroes.
For example, in a report by TV correspondent Dean Breeds he interviewed a soldier as he was having his leg amputated and in it, Marine colonel Michael Hunky said: “I said hell; they can’t be right around in there. So I didn’t call bombs and napalm on these people. But that’s where they were. I’m sure that’s where they were. God damn it. I ate to put napalm on these women and children. Just didn’t do it. I said, they can’t be there. ” (Bonier, Champlain, Golly, 1 984, p. 1 3-14) In order to increase their human interest stories, most channels showed the tragic stories of these ‘heroes’ as they fought this war.
Many believe that due to lack of substantial and solid stories in the beginning of the war, media channels highly featured these human interest stories to maintain a shining image of theirs in the eyes of the people. Now, the major turning point was in the mid-ass when media correspondents could actually go to Vietnam and report live. Because they were at the scene, reporters could see the reality and they refrained from reporting based on what they were told by officials and government agencies. Reporters like Walter Coronate became household names during this period.
Walter Creosote’s influences on the American sentiments of the Vietnam War are best demonstrated in his February 27, 1968 broadcast. The show he hosted, ‘Report on Vietnam’, showed official death counts that were ridiculously exaggerated to evoke great American sentiment by adding dead civilians. As a news anchor, it was Croon kite’s job to read these reports; however miscalculated they were (Cohen, 1). In his most famous broadcast – Walter Coronate said, “For it seems now, more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in stalemate” (Simon, 2).
This statement shocked viewers and it was deemed the first time a newscaster influenced the end of a war (Hailing the Museum of Broadcast Communications. News broadcasts, besides portraying personal journalist opinions, also played host to discrepancies between government and mainstream media reports. Earlier only those facts were given to the people which government fed to the media, but now reporters were showing people he truth about the war, however horrible it was. Coverage of major events during the war like the Maim Alai massacre, Et Offensive, Fall of Saigon etc created a difference in the public opinion.
Though initial reports stated that the operation killed 100 enemy soldiers in March 1968, it was revealed a year later that First Alt. William Called and his testators had killed up to 350 South Vietnamese civilians (Hammond, 1998, p. 192). The massacre and Alt. Galley’s trial became one Of the war’s leading stories. Moreover, it introduced the subject of American war crimes into television’s remaining coverage of the AR. Print Media: Television was a growing industry in the ass’s but newspapers and magazines were also a great source of news during the war.
They paved way for Americans to read in detail about all that was happening in the war. Newspapers became an important resource for Government to print official press releases and documents which the people needed to read. Several newspapers as well as major magazines like Time, Newsweek, and Life etc covered the war. Like the broadcast reporters, print reporters interviewed men at war, soldiers who returned home, politicians and Government officials. Some articles and interviews became largely responsible for creating a shift in the minds of the people.
Initially, even the print media was in support of American involvement in the war and ran the pieces that the Government wanted them to so that it made them appear correct. However, in the mid-ass’s, even the print media saw a shift and more and more articles were against the idea of sending more soldiers in Vietnam. Newspapers were printing the information that the Government Was feeding them but once reporters were on site they could see how wrong all the facts were. Some porters like Homer Bogart took a stand and revealed the truth.
In an article dated February 10, 1962 in the New York Times he wrote against the quote “authoritative American sources say that there were considerably more than 685 military advisors in Vietnam” by saying that the official were approximately 5,000 military personnel in South Vietnam and more were arriving every day. In April 1965, just a few weeks after American ground forces arrived in Vietnam, Time ran a cover story called “what is in Viet Name: Gallery of American Combatants. ” The piece emphasized professionalism, skill, and teamwork. New York Downshifting correspondent John W.
Finned reported that the United States would send an additional 21 ,OHO men bringing the number of person Nell to approximately 75,000 recruits (June 1 7, 1965). An article originating from South Vietnam disputed official totals when it reported that American forces would top 1 00,000 by summer’s end (Raymond July 21, 1965). Eight days later, the White House adjusted its previously announced totals. In a Times article, Washington correspondent John D. Foment reported that President Johnson would seek an immediate increase to US military strength in South Vietnam to 125,000 men (July 29, 965).
These reports clearly showed how American Government was playing with their own people to win this war. Papers like New York Times, Washington Post etc played a major role by writing the real facts about the number of soldiers being sent and the incessant gunning and killing that took place in Vietnam. The tone of these reports, both broadcast and print, clearly show that even though media took not much interest in the Vietnam War when it commenced, it was instrumental in ending it after realizing just how mammoth like this war was turning. Films on Vietnam War: Based on the war many films were made.
One of the most notable ones in Casualties of War which is based on a true story where four American soldiers kidnapped a Vietnamese girl, gang raped and tortured her before shooting her to death. The movie tells us about the horrors faced by the locals. It shows us how the mind of a soldier works during a war situation. Another critically acclaimed movie is Good morning Vietnam. The movie is about an on air show where the RAJA makes several attempts in telling people about the true stories of the war. Soon he is fired as the content revealed on the show is not passed by the higher officials and a censorship is put.
Other movies washing the Vietnam War are Full Metal Jacket, Part to War, Hamburger Hill are very well recognized The girl in the picture: Kim PUC, a nine year old is the iconic child in The girl in the photo. ‘ It was a photograph that shocked the world, which gave the people a clear vision that people in Vietnam were suffering at a great magnitude. She describes the situation as bombs dropping everywhere and in the next second she caught fire. A Vietnamese photographer, Nick Ut, took the photograph as she fled the attack and she was still running when Mr.. Win stopped her to pour Water on her, while instructing his crew to keep filming.
He took Kim to hospital in Saigon and days later moved her to a specialist plastic surgery centre for life- saving operations. She stayed there for 14 months. Without his immediate aid she would probably have not survived. Without his immediate aid she would probably have not survived. At first his editor refused to run it because she was naked but when nick explained that she had no clothes because they had been burned off her body they changed their minds and sent it around the world. As it is rightly said, a picture speaks a thousand words and so did this one.
On one side Kim is harassed by reporters who follow her to this day as he grew famous as the naked girl in the picture. But on the other side she is also thankful to the reporter who saved her life. The picture won the Pulitzer Prize. Comparison between Print and Broadcast Media during the war: The Vietnam War took place at a time when print media was already at the forefront in America while television had just occupied an important place in the American household. The nature of reports by print and broadcast media was very similar, because they were both in support of the war, but within a few years, media voiced completely against the war.
However, this war gave roads media a larger opportunity and people relied on the visual reports provided by news channels to know in depth about what was happening in Vietnam. The brutal details of the war could be seen by people in their living rooms, hence the term ‘Living Room War’. Broadcast media grew in leaps and bounds because of the brave coverage during the war. Print media was no less; reporters from various newspapers courageously went to Vietnam to gather news and facts. The Vietnam War is a perfect example to showcase media as the ‘fourth estate’ or ‘fourth pillar of our society.
The journalists of tooth showed integrity, courage and none showed any bias. Yes, the media did not give much importance to the war in the beginning but as soon as the relevance of it was revealed, broadcast and print media did an excellent job in covering it. How Media Coverage changed the Public Opinion: In the beginning, when the war broke out, CICS decided to support South Vietnam because it did not want Communism to spread in Asia, and ultimately everywhere else. Citizens in America did not think that the war would have much effect on them.
On the contrary they sent soldiers to Vietnam, believing that their country, like always would win this crusade as ell. Soldiers who went to this battle were looked upon as heroes and those who sacrificed their lives were considered martyrs. There was not much insight on the real facts and the real reasons about the war. Media itself took little interest and only featured human interest and tragic stories along with interviews of soldiers who had returned home. The facts that were given by the officials were reported and no effort was made to check the validity of the facts.
The turning point was on the onset of the ass’s, five years after the war had begun and after several lives were already lost, and not just of American oldie’s but also Indochinese soldiers and civilians. Media was equipped enough to send reporters and cameramen on the sight of the conflict. It was only then that they realized that many details of the war were kept hidden by the Government due to vested interests. Luckily, the media at that time was integral and followed all the journalistic principles. They took a stand and reported all the facts, the true facts which they saw themselves.
It is due to this leadership displayed by the media that public opinion changed and the people realized the discrepancies of the media and obviously, the need to top the war, which wasn’t even theirs to fight. When the true stories behind the war came out in the open, Americans revolted against their involvement in the combat. They wanted to stop sending more soldiers to Vietnam, and those who went as heroes from there and came back were now looked upon as losers. Not enough credit was given to them for going and participating in the warfare.
Media showed how civilians in Vietnam were losing their lives as a result of this genocide. People and property were getting ruined and as Americans saw more of that, the more they were enraged. People took out anti-government rallies and protests were made. People power became extremely strong in the US and they went hand in hand with the media which stated that this war had gone on for longer than anyone could have interpreted. Due to the power of the masses, President Johnson and other officials were forced to withdraw several troops from Vietnam. The number of soldiers being sent there also reduced in a great number.
As government realized that media was making public information that wasn’t supposed to be revealed, they tried to censor news in their favor. However, this was futile and media continued showing more brutal facts, leading to lesser support Of he people. By the end of ass’s and onset of ass’s, the nation as a whole opposed American involvement in the war. The media, at some level, sensationalists the news. During the ‘Et Offensive’, a military campaign against South Vietnam and its allies, media garnered sympathy by showing visuals of the enemy attack IIS soldiers.
The Maim Alai massacre of 1 968, where several Vietnamese civilians were killed by Americans, was used as another event by the media to sensationalist news. It was used by the media to show the velour American soldiers and they did not show the cruelty done by them on the people. Every news report has its own pros and cons, but It is suffice to say that without the incessant reporting by the media, and some really bold journalists, public opinion would have probably not changed and the war would have gone on for who knows how many more years.
The masses protested and finally US had to withdraw after signing a treaty. This war proved the importance that media has in framing the opinion of people. Conclusion: According to us, Media played a very vital role in the 20 years of the Vietnam War. All the reports were crucial and they clearly had an impact, whether positive or negative in the minds of the people. If it wasn’t for television news channels and print media, it would have been next to impossible for the people to find out how their own soldiers were faring in the war.
Media, in most cases was unbiased and unparalleled towards the end of the war, and played a big hand in doing the same. Like always, media did rake up some news to make the American Government look good and give them a clean chit but that is what media does, I. E. Create hype. It is due to these reports the people were awakened to bitter reality and decided to take a stance. The Vietnam War showed the extreme potential media has to change the public opinion.