The Duty of War Correspondents
War correspondents are sent, by the news channels that they work for, to the different wars that are going on in the world. Their duty is to report back to the country what is happening in the war. If the country is part of the war then they have to try and paint a clear picture of what the situation of the country’s soldiers is. But do the war correspondents actually fulfill their duty? Many war correspondents are criticized by the people for not painting an accurate picture of what is actually happening in the war.
But is it better for war correspondents to deviate from the truth so that the people of the country do not panic? There are many debates raging in different countries that whether war correspondents should tell the country exactly what is happening in the war and how many soldiers have died etc or should they just give a vague picture of what is happening and leave the general public in the dark? This is the main issue that news channels face when they send journalists to cover the war. In all this what exactly is the duty of a war correspondent?
There is an intense battle between the media and the military on what can be reported and what cannot, what is patriotic and what is unpatriotic. The conflict on what the news media is allowed to televise arises because the people’s right to know conflicts with the national security of the country. The duty of a war correspondent is to strike a balance between the two. He must report what he deems is fit for the public to know but at the same time does not jeopardize the army’s war efforts. Therefore the main duty of an embedded journalist is to make sure that the public is not left in the dark but also that the soldiers on the battlefield are not compromised.
There are a few reasons why war correspondents cannot say and show everything. Firstly the government does not allow the media to disclose everything about the army’s tactics because maybe the enemy might intercept the channel’s coverage and learn about the position of the troops. Also the public might not want to know about how the soldiers have died. The public also will not want to see images of their fellow countrymen bleeding or dying out on the battlefield.
Therefore a war correspondent must only report back to the country what he feels is suitable and at the same time he should not, by his body language, project what is happening on the battlefield that is- if the country is being beaten and soldiers are dying, he should not show the grief on his face but try and remain impassive. This is one of the biggest difficulties that a war correspondent faces. The war correspondent must also be able to express the language of war clearly so that he can convey the morbid statistics to the public without making them actually look at the whole picture. He has to try and dehumanize the war so that the public does not panic. He must also acquaint himself with military terminology so that he can convey what is actually happening. These are the various other duties of war correspondents.
A war correspondent has a very dangerous job. The job carries a high degree of risk. He is in danger of being shot at, of being bombed, of being taken hostage… the list continues. He must be able to report regularly but also carefully. He has to stay out of trouble and safe. Though the risks are large there are many war correspondents out in the field doing their duty tirelessly. Even though they are criticized at every turn along the way, they take it in their stride and do their duty perfectly. The war correspondents do everything in their power to make sure that the public is in the know even if it means risking their lives and this is a war correspondent’s true duty.