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War correspondents on war porn

19 May

As promised, I ran yesterday’s post about the supposed rise of “war porn” by a pair of former colleagues who have covered recent wars to see what they thought. In a nutshell, University of Buffalo professor David Schim has surmised that war porn is on the rise largely because the concept of embedding journalists with military forces is failing.

Here’s what Graeme Smith, The Globe and Mail‘s decorated Afghanistan correspondent, had to say:

Interesting. The professor writes, ‘War porn, in a bizarre way, is evidence of the failure of the strategy of embedding.’ In my view, war porn is evidence that some people enjoy watching stuff explode, and that’s about it.

I won’t defend journalists who rely exclusively on embedding, because travelling only with pro-Western forces does not give you a full picture of any war. But embedding has been an important part of our Afghanistan coverage, and I tend to disagree with media analysts who see the practice itself as a problem.

Another former colleague who has also worked in war zones, and who asked not to be named, said this:

I think it’s, frankly, missing the point. The reason there is more of this stuff is because people have greater access to digital cameras and the internet.

I think it’s a little misguided to say the reason this stuff is on the “rise” [if it is in fact on the rise, which i question] is because of a dearth of critical media. Most newspapers won’t publish shots of dead people on the internet, but others will.

Perhaps there wasn’t more of it in Vietnam because there wasn’t an internet for military personnel to post it on and troll for it. It should also be noted that most journalists traveled with the military in vietnam, wwII, or whenever.

I have seen lots of very graphic images from Afghanistan and Iraq in the mainstream media as well. So, i’m not sure what he’s getting at from the small quote that I read on your blog.

Sounds like some ill-thought out academic drivel to me.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped many media outlets – such as Newsweek and the New York Daily News – from reporting otherwise.

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Posted by on May 19, 2010 in afghanistan, iraq, online, war

 

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