TV War?

by Noel Yotslot

There is tight responsibility in reporting on war. Aside from the state-controlled or state influenced television stations, maintaining an impartial bias is obviously essential if any honest account is to be presented

Personal emotion, national loyalty, individual belief must be set aside in favour of an impartial presentation of fact and the avoidance of jingoism, or chauvinistic patriotism, is vital.

With millions of people now able to access immediate up to date information on developments, the burden of responsibility in presenting accurate and impartial reports is enormous. Whether we choose to admit it or to deny it matters not, the information each of us receives forms the backbone of our personal interpretation of events.

In broadcasting terms, the UK Sky-BSkyB network is a relative newcomer when compared to other much longer established European broadcasting networks. It actively covered the war with Argentina, the first Gulf war and is now presenting 24-hour coverage of the war in Iraq.

It is disturbing therefore to see the main screen strap bearing the term “War On Iraq”. This has a subliminal effect on viewers. It is not a war on Iraq—it is a war against a regime that controlled Iraq. Correspondence to the station regarding this matter and suggesting the banner be altered brought no response. Other network have chosen to use banner strips such as War On Saddam and others have chosen to use War In Iraq, both of which are more accurate and symnpathetic to impartiality than the term War On Iraq.

This week, as coalition forces occupied areas of Baghdad and Basra and took over the occupation of a number of presidential ‘palaces’ in the two cities, one report took viewers through Saddam Hussein’s main palace in Basra and carried a description of the ‘oppulence’ of the property and described how the Iraq regime had enjoyed their ill-gotten luxurious lifestyles.

There is also something disturbing in this. The UK has hundreds of stately homes, many of which are as oppulent if not more oppulent than the Iraqi palaces. It was said in the report that the means to provide Hussein with the luxury he and his cronies enjoyed was stolen from the purses of the Iraqi people and there can be little doubt of the truth of that. Yet something similar might easily be said of the UK’s stately homes, in particular the Royal palaces dotted across the UK.

This is not to say that the news report was wrong. It does highlight the need however for explicit care in how facts are presented to viewers.

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