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Archive for May, 2009

Brittney M. Luedtke

019: 169: SCA

April 23, 2009

Response Paper 6

Public Journalism

This week’s readings focused on the journalistic practice of public journalism, also known as civic journalism, which relies on society as a source for what stories and issues should be covered.  This type of practice, as opposed to traditional journalism, focuses civic engagement as a means for a democratic society.  Critics of public journalism contend that journalist’s primary responsibility should be to provide accurate information, and to remain independent of other institutions and community-service projects (Voakes, 2004).  However, by only providing information and not contributing to the public’s views and opinions, does not advocate for a democratic society by which communities should have an impact on what is reported and how it is reported.

Public journalism started as an experiment by news organizations in the late 1980’s and has since become a social movement throughout media in society to “constitute a public sphere in which citizens could understand and engage productively with the issues of the day” (Nichols, 2006).  As stated by Voakes (2004), public journalism is a form of journalism that seeks to listen systematically to the stories and ideas of citizens, examine alternative ways to frame stories on important community issues, choose frames that stand the best chance to stimulate citizen deliberation and build public understanding of issues, take the initiative to report on major public problems in a way that advances public knowledge of possible solutions and values, and pay continuing and systematic attention to how well and how credibly it is communicating with the public.

This reshaping of journalistic values and norms has allowed for citizens to become more involved with the media, rather than just being receptive of it.  Public journalism values hold different to “traditional” journalistic practices which have been criticized by society as being created by institutional elites to construct certain messages that may or may not portray issues and stories as accurate, or telling the whole story.  Scholars whom are opposed to traditional journalism hold that the dialogue, deliberation, and traditional polling taking don’t allow for citizens to be fully involved with controversial issues and topics in society as they are just presented with the information.  Supporters of Public journalism suggest that the role information should play in society should be that of encouraging public deliberation and debate, “not simply about citizens registering their pre-existing preferences and opinions” (Voakes, 2004).  However, there is disagreement among scholars as to whether public journalism serves the public better than that of traditional journalism as the evidence for public journalism having positive effects on civic and public life is partial and incomplete (Nichols, 2006).

It is my observation of Public journalism that the premise of it inviting citizen’s to engage in public deliberation and debate on controversial issues, as well as allowing citizen’s feedback, makes for a more democratic sharing of ideas, and therefore, a more democratic society.  Whereas traditional or “objective” journalism serves society with information on certain topics and issues, public journalism allows one to critique and analyze them.  It is my opinion that by citizen’s being more involved with and having more knowledge about the information that is conveyed to them on a regular basis, will allow for a more informed and educated society on issues that affect their lives.

Even though it has yet to be concluded that public journalism practices have had a positive effect on society, or raising citizen involvement as opposed to traditional journalism, the goals, potential impact on citizen and community involvement, as well as its relation to democratic theory, calls for the implementation of Public journalism to become more widespread throughout news organizations in American society.  If by all means public journalism values cannot be completely implemented without traditional journalism, the goals that public journalism offer should be at least practiced in accordance with the objective traditional journalism.  “There seems to be room for both objectivity and explicit values, for both sensitivity to citizens and autonomous news judgment, for both the front-row observer and the behind-the-scenes catalyst” (Voakes, 2004).  By combining both practices, it is a win-win situation for all; this includes, news organizations, journalists, and citizens, whom should all have an equal say about issues and relevant topics in society.

The following poll, by Pew Center for Civic Journalism, was conducted in accordance with the effects of public journalism, as to if the public knew more and was interested in the topic in relation to other citizens whom would be more apt to traditional journalism.  The hypothesis was that reader’s of the Record, whom chose what they wanted to learn about the campaign, would pay more attention, and therefore have more knowledge than the average citizen.  However, as stated in the research of the poll, there was no key finding that suggested public journalism as having a more positive effect on knowledge about the topic as compared to those who do not engage in public journalism approaches.

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Chapter six of Rampton and Stauber’s book deals with the issues surrounded the dead from the war in Iraq. It begins with a look at Operation Desert Storm, and how it helped to being the new management of public perception of human deaths in war. The real death toll is still not known, and in 1989, a ban was imposed on media coverage of returning American casualties. Cher was one of the first celebrity advocates for the treatment of the wounded during the Iraq war, and the authors went into a case of how the wounded are different today than they were in the past war-times. Tami Silicio created great media turbulence with a published photo of flag covered caskets, as well the withholding of government pictures. These pictures were eventually released to Russ Kick’s thememoryhole.org after an appeal’s case. Many studies have been conducted to figure out the true death count of Iraqi people from the war, the most successful to date was the Lancet study. However the real toll is still only estimated, when it could be only a fraction of the real cost.

Chapter seven is the conclusion of these novel, and deals with the ‘mirage of victory.’ It  goes into the detail on the only positive thing that has come from the war with Iraq. The end of the reign of Saddam Hussein. Iraq came out of a technological hole or prison as you may call it. Blogs from all over state coming out, gibing America a better sense of how the citizens feel about occupation. There were cases of horrible treatments of Iraqi’s by American soldiers, and the way the U.S. citizens reacte to those findings. The chapter concluded with exist strategies, for many well=known politicians to ease their separations from wartime activities that had failed, as well as three main arguments of why American occupation in Iraq failed.

            The part that grabbed my attention the most out of these two chapters was the response of Darby’s after their news broke about the American soldier’s treatment of prisoners. The way their response is cataloged in this book, it seems that they had no idea that anybody would disagree with their sentiments toward what happened. You have to remember that thee are two strong ways of thinking when pro and con war. People have been hurt, people have been brought up differently, and people are angry. I think if they would have thought about their decision to bring that public more carefully, they would have done it undisclosed maybe, and keeping their name and faces out of the media spotlight. OI would have done that, because you would have to expect a backlash of some sort from either or both sides of society.

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Erin Krohn

5/4/09

To Tell the Truth

In Chapter 6, Rampton and Stauber criticized American military strategy for historically managing public perceptions about the human costs of war. First, they examine the Iraqi death count of Operation Desert Storm. It is crazy that even to this day no one knows for sure how many Iraqis were killed. Another shocking fact is the common disinterest between enemies. Neither the U.S. nor the regime of Saddam Hussein were interested in recording or reporting the number of Iraqi casualties. The authors further bring the invasion of Iraq in 2003 into the scenario. In this particular case, American television again had practiced a near-total blackout of disturbing images of war. Journalists on site claimed that reports from the battlefield did not match up with what was shown on television. This all corresponds with the U.S. government’s attempt to sanitize the brutal realities of war via media messages; and these attempts continue to control content today.  Many families of fallen U.S. soldiers would like newspapers to publish the stories and photos of their loved ones as opposed to anonymity and statistical death toll numbers. If I was ever put in the same situation, I would want a story published for the world to see about my loved one.  This way they could be honored instead of their story being another anonymous statistic.

Chapter 7 was about victory and how America is expected to win in a war. The Iraq war accomplished the end to Saddam Hussein which represented the repressed nation.  The U.S. occupation that replaced Saddam promised freedom, and the people of Iraq began expressing themselves in way that would have been impossible previously: own newspapers, radio, internet cafes, weblogs, and other forms of communication media. Iraqis praised and despised American troops, but the gap between Americans and the people they thought they were liberating was vividly demonstrated in Spring 2004, according to the authors: four American private military contractors were killed and their dead bodies were disrespected, and the scandal of the American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in which U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi soldiers. Chapter 7’s point was America must intervene and win and victory will transform the Middle East into a democracy. But each step towards the victory had ended in disappointment, followed by a new plan of action.  America has been chasing an image that is based more on its own wishful thinking than on any realistic understanding of the region it seeks to lead. The authors also talk about the “war at home” in which some of the war’s supporters in the U.S. were beginning to waver or abandon their positions, and point out that the exit strategy for the U.S. is not whether the U.S. will be forced to pull out of Iraq, but rather when it will happen.

I think that with the war slowly making a turn to the end, American citizens are getting more answers and are being more involved with the war.  The public is beginning to take more of a stand and the government has slowly brought some answers to the people.  While the authors make it clear in Chapter 7 that the appropriate officials must be held accountable for their lies and manipulation regarding the situation in Iraq, I’m still not sure how it’s all going to pan out.  It will be interesting to see if any provisions to hold officials accountable will be made in the future.

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Chapter six dealt with the inability of the government to recognize the exact number of causalities that occurred during the Iraq War. Everyday citizens actually were the people who took it upon themselves to organize websites that detailed the names of fallen soldiers. The chapter also dealt with many of the inconstancies that were released by the United States government in particular the Bush administration. This chapter was also where certain supporters of the Iraq War began to withdraw their previous support and replace it with disgust and animosity.

Chapter seven discussed all of the horrible behavior that accompanied the war and situations that Iraqi and American soldiers found themselves in. The subject of torture was brought up regularly in the chapter particularly the situation that included American soldiers torturing Iraqi soldiers. What the Iraqi soldiers experienced was particularly heinous and problematic for the United States government. The soldiers that were found to have been a large part of the torture were arrested while the government tried to recover from the bad press of the whole situation.

I think that towards the end of the last few years as the war is attempting to wind down, American citizens are getting more answers and more involved with the war and speaking their mind on why the war is wrong or right. The public started to stand up and demand answers from the government and the government began to slowly answer some of those all important questions.

-Katelynn Henderson

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Christina Mirro
Media Process and Effects
5/4/09

In Chapter 6, Operation Desert Storm is mentioned as transforming the American military strategy about the human costs of war.  Leon Daniel who was part of the press pool when to Iraq and found it strange that there was no signs of dead bodies, blood, and minimal corpses. He figured out the way they disappeared was they had been plowed under and buried.  “ One reason there was no trace of what happened in the Neutral Zone was that Armored Combat Earth Movers came behind the armored burial brigade, leveling the ground and smoothing way projecting Iraqi arms, legs and equipment” states Colonal Lon Maggart.  To this day there is no accurate count of how many have died during Operation Desert Storm. Cher was one of the first public voices that talked about the U.S casualties.  As the war continued U.S publications updated the death toll for U.S. soldiers. In April 2004, Americans saw their first image of coffins returning to Iraq. These images really set the off the antiwar sentiments.
Chapter 7 was about victory and how America is expected to win in a war. The Iraq war accomplished the end to Saddam Hussein which represented the repressed nation
The people of Iraq began to individualize their life, forming their own communication media and opinions being projected.  Pro-occupation weblogs sprang up and by April 2006 the total weblog listed was 198. These weblogs were about how the people of Iraq feel betrayed by politicians and the future of Iraq.  A pro-occupation wrote: “ I completely lost the ambition and hope about secular Iraq where you can express you feelings an thoughts freely especially the religion…..” There was also a clear gap between Americans and the people they were liberating.  War supporters started to change theirs minds once the war started for example Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson- regrets his role in helping Powell prepare the prewar speech.  Silvio Berlusconi- one of Bushes strongest supporters declared he had been against the war all along. Democrats who had supported the war in previous elections began to oppose it.
Chapter 7’s point was America must intervene and win and victory will transform the Middle East into a democracy. But each step towards the victory had ended in disappointment, followed by a new plan of action.  America has been chasing a mirage- the image that is based more on its own wishful thinking then on any realistic understanding of the region it seeks to lead.

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Carly Johnson

4 May 2009

 

Chapter 6 Summary

 

            Operation Desert Storm changed the way the American military managed public perceptions about the human costs of war. Leon Daniel, a veteran war correspondent was a member of the press pool assigned to cover the battle. Like other reporters, he was not allowed to witness the fighting itself. By the time the press was allowed on the scene, there were no bodies or visible signs of carnage. This is likely due to the fact that Armored Combat Earth Movers leveled the groups and smoothed out “projecting Iraqi arms, legs and equipment.”

            Although to this day no one knows exactly how many Iraqis died during Operation Desert Storm, several attempts to tally the dead have been made. Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives estimated that more than 2500 Iraqi civilians and probably more than 20,000 soldiers were killed. This is a drastic contrast from deaths of U.S. soldiers, which only numbered 293.

            During the Iraq War, like in Operation Desert Storm, military planners took great pains to prevent Americans from see disturbing images from the war. While Iraq’s information minister “Baghdad Bob” engaged in flat out propaganda that was easy to poke fun at, the U.S.’s propaganda was “more sophisticated and effective.”

            The low number of coalition casualties during Operation Desert Storm contributed to the misconception that the war in Iraq would be relatively blood-free. The government not only tried to minimize the number of dead but also worked to minimize reporting on deaths that did occur. By the summer of 2003, many people began to realize that the invasion of Iraq was only a prelude to the real war of occupation.

            Cher was one of the first public figures to discuss U.S. casualties. She was especially disturbed by the government’s efforts to hide injured veterans and those killed in battle. U.S. Central Command only gave the number of wounded when asked but reporters almost never did. The Department of Defense only allowed the Disabled American Veterans to speak with wounded veterans unless the veterans specifically asked for them.

            The first image of flag-draped coffins was published in April 2004. It was taken by Tami Silicio, who, along with her husband, worked for an aircraft company that handled shipments for the U.S. military. The Seattle Times published the photo and Silicio’s employer fired her and her husband under pressure from the Pentagon.

            Government officials had actually been shooting many pictures similar to Silicio’s, however instead of sharing them they were filing them away. Russ Kick, who runs a website that archives government files, filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act asking for all photos showing caskets containing the remains of U.S. military personnel after he found out these photos were banned. Though his request was initially denied, he appealed the ruling and won.

            In April of 2004 Nightline ran a program titled “The Fallen,” during which Ted Koppel read the names of the 721 U.S. soldiers who had died in Iraq. ABC affiliates owned by the Sinclair Broadcast group did not air the show because of Sinclair’s conservative leaning.

            Americans think of their own casualties very differently than they think of the casualties of others, and this is reflected in media coverage. While U.S. casualties were recorded with precision, Iraq casualties remained less clear. Military officials used the bogus argument that there was no accurate way to keep an Iraqi civilian death count. IT is important to note that the course to ignore Iraqi deaths was not just chosen by the government, but also by many journalists and members of the general public. Pressure to present the war in a favorable light led to very different coverage of the war in the United States than in Europe and other parts of the world.

            In Iraq and Afghanistan efforts to count the dead came from private individuals rather than journalists or the government. Marc Herold, an economics professor attempted to compile the number of Afghani deaths by tallying the numbers in verified reports from aid agencies, eyewitnesses, and the world’s media.  He established the Iraq Body Count Project. Reports from Iraq Body Country received a prominent place in newspapers throughout Latin America but got barely any coverage in the U.S.

            Marla Ruzicka, a peace activist from California attempted to tally the dead by going door-to-door with the assistance of interpreters. She was killed in 2005 by a suicide bomber when traveling with a U.S. military convoy.

            The best available estimate of Iraqi casualties comes from a study conducted in 2004 by Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Les F. Roberts published by The Lancet. The goal of the study was not to just count deaths, but to estimate the number of excess deaths and causes of death. The team sought to determine the death rate in Iraq before the U.S. invasion and compare it to the death rate afterward. The study was risky for researchers to conduct because of the level of violence in Iraq. The study found that before the invasion, the major causes of death were heart attacks, strokes, and other chronic disorders. Afterward, violence was found to the primary causes of death. Because the study was not very precise, it found that excess deaths ranged from 8,000 to 194,000. Released a week before the presidential election of 2004, the study was praised by public health researchers and received front-page coverage in Europe but was virtually ignored by the U.S. news media. Conservative and pro-war media attacked the study with an unprecedented level of contempt.

 

Chapter 7 Summary

 

            The one positive thing that the U.S. invasion of Iraq accomplished was the downfall of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. occupation that replaced him promised freedom and Iraqi people began to express themselves through communications media. By November 2003, at least 106 new newspapers had been launched in Baghdad. Internet cafes began to grow as did weblogs. Some of the first bloggers included Salam Pax and Raed Jarrar. These blogs allowed people to see through the eyes of Iraqis who were living in the midst of war and occupation. Previously, the only information Americans had about Iraqi’s lives was spoon fed to them directly from the U.S. government and was often inaccurate and manipulative.

            At first, many of these blogs were hopeful that U.S. occupation would bring safety and democracy. However, as terrorist activity increased, the bloggers began to realize that this goal was unlikely and there was no end in sight to the violence.

            Though the government presented the plight of the Iraqi people as a case for war, they knew it would not work as a single factor motivating Americans to support the war in Iraq, which is why they devised the case for weapons of mass destruction. The gap between Americans and the people they were liberating became very clear in March of 2004 when guerillas ambushed and killed American private military contractors in Fallujah. Insurgents filmed the attack it was broadcast around the world. This gap was also shown through the abuse of Iraqis by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib. Not only was the abuse itself evidence of this gap, but so were public reactions to the evidence. Many Americans were angry with Sergeant Joseph Darby for coming forward with the photos, accusing him of being a traitor. Miliblogs, while full of information about the hardships of being a soldier, also displayed a lack of American understanding of Iraqis.

            By the fall of 2005, many of the war’s supporters in the U.S. were beginning to second guess their positions. Even Donald Rumsfeld attempted to distance himself from the war. As anti-war sentiment grew, insiders reported that Bush was growing increasingly angry and irritable.

            In all three of the U.S.’s most significant wars since 1945 (Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq) public support has declined as casualties increased. By 2006, a Gallup survey found that only 44 percent of Americans believed the U.S. would win the war and two-thirds of Americans favored withdrawing all or some of U.S. troops. In the opinion of the authors, it is now not a question whether the U.S. will be forced to pull out of Iraq but when. While some believe the U.S. should withdraw into isolationism, this is not a viable option if the U.S. as long as it aspires to remain a world power. The U.S.’s past military actions in the Middle East have displayed instances of human rights abuses and corruption—a stark contrast against America’s stated objectives of peace, freedom, and democracy.

            As time has passed, the U.S. government has reformulated its stance and prepared several rationalizations for its failure in Iraq. These arguments include that the war would have succeeded if it had been better planned, that we did not actually fight to win, and that the liberals are to blame. However, if any progress is to be made, we must hold accountable the appropriate officials.

 

 

Experience

 

            While the authors make it clear in Chapter 7 that the appropriate officials must be held accountable for their lies and manipulation regarding the situation in Iraq, they do not lay out a plan for how this would work. It will be interesting to see if any provisions to hold officials accountable will be made in the future and if they will actually be followed once they are set in place.

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Mallory Cole

19:169:001 Yao

Rampton & Stauber, Chapters 6 & 7

My Reading Reaction Paper #20

In Chapter 6, the authors talk about the death toll in Iraq, or rather “not counting the dead,” as the authors say. The authors begin the chapter by talking about Operation Desert Storm, which was the first U.S.-led war in the Persian Gulf, and how it transformed American military strategy for managing public perceptions about the human costs of war. Concerning Iraqi people, the U.S. estimated various numbers: a 2003 analysis estimated that more than 3,500 civilians and more than 20,000 soldiers were killed. But “with regard to” U.S. coalition forces, the number of dead was “mercifully” small: 293 U.S. dead, plus 65 Arab, British, and French. According to the authors, the U.S. government was not merely determined to minimize the number of dead; it also worked to minimize the reporting on the deaths that did occur. The authors also talk about the fact that wounded soldiers were less likely to die in Iraq than in previous wars, but that this was a “mixed blessing.” According to the authors, this occurred because many survivors of the Iraq war suffered from more serious, long-term injuries than in past wars, including burns, amputations, and damaged spinal cords. Also, there were a high number of brain injuries due to the use of improvised explosive devices by insurgents. By September 2003, nearly ten soldiers per day were being officially declared “wounded in action.” U.S. publications periodically updated the death toll for U.S. soldiers, and local newspapers reported on individual deaths as they occurred. The death toll of American soldiers steadily climbed: 1,000 soldier dead by September 2004; 2,000 dead in October 2005. Independent estimates of dead Iraqi civilians range from 20,000 to 30,000—numbers that are “almost certainly understated.”

In Chapter 7, the authors talk about the “mirage of victory” by introducing that the one thing the war on Iraq accomplished was the removal of Saddam Hussein—which ended his “brutal tyranny.” The U.S. occupation that replaced Saddam promised freedom, and the people of Iraq began expressing themselves in way that would have been impossible previously—own newspapers, radio, internet cafes, weblogs, and other forms of communication media. Iraqis praised and despised American troops, but the gap between Americans and the people they thought they were liberating was vividly demonstrated in Spring 2004, according to the authors: four American private military contractors were killed and their dead bodies were disrespected, and the scandal of the American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in which U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi soldiers. The authors also talk about the “war at home” in which some of the war’s supporters in the U.S. were beginning to waver or abandon their positions. The authors also point out that the exit strategy for the U.S. is not whether the U.S. will be forced to pull out of Iraq, but rather when it will happen.

I enjoyed Chapter 7 the best because it gave a more detailed account of the various Iraqi blogs about the war, including a brief description about Baghdad Burning—which I referenced in my presentation. I’ve wanted to learn more about Iraqi blogs because I don’t think our government did a good job of letting the American people know how exactly the majority of Iraqi civilians felt about the war, and I thought this chapter did a good job of talking a little more about the blogs and what they say. I think it’s important to learn more about the culture of the Iraqi people and to learn how they feel about the U.S. occupation.

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