A Comparartive Media Study Of The Falklands

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A Comparartive Media Study Of The Falklands War Essay, Research Paper The analysis of media coverage is tricky in any time period, with debates raging over the role and aims of the media in conveying information to the masses. The situation is further complicated during periods of crisis – historically, the media has been used to spread propaganda, through the popular press in the First World War, and the radio and cinema in its successor. It was the television coverage of the Vietnam War which shaped the way broadcasting was perceived – for the harrowing shots of wartime behaviour was said to strike American morale so deeply, as to ultimately lose the war. It is in such an atmosphere that the media confronted the Falklands Crisis. In fact, this conflict was unique in

being inaccessible save by Naval crossing. Thus the British government was able to exclude any independent or foreign journalist from travelling the 8,000 miles with the Task Force, allowing select teams from Britain to make the journey, as long as they conformed to the strictest censorship. The Glasgow University Media Group (1985) examined the production process of news during this period, and here I explore their analysis, chiefly of the sinking of the Argentine cruiser, the General Belgrano. This highly controversial act took place on the 2nd May 1982, with the first bulletins coming out on the 3rd May. These were seen by the Glasgow Media Group as underplaying the effects of the torpedo attack, with an emphasis on how many of the crew could be saved. Despite the lack of

information, the bulletins carried an hopeful air of optimism. On 4th May the theme was of survivors, with an expert called in by the BBC, for comment of the chances of the crew, given the proper training. This contrasted with the headlines of foreign newspapers, such as the New York Post, crying – “Fear Hundreds Dead in Sea Battle”. The 6th May brought with it film of the returning survivors, with a reluctance to use the word “dead” in reporting. Instead, those killed were heard to be “lost” or “missing”. An interesting occurrence on 7th May was the translation of a decode message from the Argentine commander in the Falklands. At 12:30pm, the BBC translated his words as: “The sinking of the General Belgrano has opened the door for the maximum use of force by

our side.” At 9:30pm, the translation had changed: “The sinking of the General Belgrano has opened the way for us to kill.” This was, as the Glasgow Media Group point out, an extraordinary change of emphasis. In fact, the literal translation was “to pass through.” On the 9th May, photographs of the ship appeared, with critical comment that was conspicuous in its absence. What comment there was, continually stressed that the ship was on the edge of the Exclusion zone, implying an unwillingness to acknowledge that the ship was outside it. There was, then, a “systematic underplaying of the harmful effects of this British action.” The Glasgow Media Group contrasted this incident with the sinking of the HMS Sheffield, where a profound difference in news content can be

seen, beyond that which one could reasonably expect. The military, uneasy revealing British casualties, transmitted an official bulletin on 4th May – that the crew had tackle a blaze on the ship, and were then picked up by rescue teams. However, journalists delved into this, emphasising from the start the human loss, with talk of the “dreadful news” and an “astonishing loss”. This use of language rarely appeared in connection with the Belgrano. So emotive links were used, with colleagues described as “stunned and pained”, and a Scottish mother of one the dead was “shattered”. Every name of every casualtywas subtitled on the screen, with a fluttering Royal Ensign in the background. Newsnight on 5th May best illustrated the difference in emphasis, by relating how