One of the things I thought about while watching “The Great Raid,” the powerful saga of the rescue of American POWs in a Japanese POW camp in the Philippines, is how war coverage has changed since the era depicted in the movie.
Of course, there were too many casualties in World War II to be reported, but suppose the media of that era had deigned to focus only on casualties?
There’s a story in the New York Times today about the Associated Press?s inadequate coverage of Iraq:
“Rosemary Goudreau, the editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune, has received the same e-mail message a dozen times over the last year.
“’Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?’ the anonymous polemic asks, in part. ’Did you know that 3,100 schools have been renovated?’
“’Of course we didn’t know!’ the message concludes. ’Our media doesn’t tell us!’”
Ms. Goudreau’s newspaper depends on the AP for Iraq news. Editors at a meeting in New York raised the question of whether a “kind of bunker mentality was preventing reporters in Iraq from getting out and explaining the bigger picture beyond the daily death tolls.”
Of course, the bunker isn’t just the physical one–the press had designed the coverage of the war around the daily death toll, casualties, and soldiers and families who have turned against the war.
Unlike the press of World War II, the press today is largely against the Iraq War, and their coverage is an extension of the pre-war anti-war movement.
“The Great Raid” is not without its glitches–a blonde female member of the resistance walks around the streets of Manila in a becoming trench coat; in reality, she would have been interned, even though she held a passport from a neutral nation.
But this was an old-fashioned move–you know the kind–where there is rejoicing when the Yanks arrive. Oh, and the POW campaign afraid the harshness there wasn’t sleep deprivation and the lack of air conditioning that so troubled Senator Durbin.