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A war correspondent is a journalist who covers stories firsthand from a war zone. In the 19th century they were also called Special Correspondents.

Methods

Their jobs require war correspondents to deliberately go to the most conflict-ridden parts of the world. Once there they attempt to get close enough to the action to provide written accounts, photos, or film footage. Thus, being a war correspondent is often considered the most dangerous form of journalism. On the other hand, war coverage is also one of the most successful branches of journalism. Newspaper sales increase greatly in wartime and television news ratings go up. News organizations have sometimes been accused of warmongering because of the advantages they gather from conflict. William Randolph Hearst is often said to have encouraged the Spanish-American War for this reason. (See Yellow journalism)

Only some conflicts receive extensive worldwide coverage, however. Among recent wars, the Kosovo War received a great deal of coverage, as did the Persian Gulf War. Many third-world wars, however, tend to received less substantial coverage because corporate media are often less interested, the lack of infrastructure makes reporting more difficult and expensive, and the conflicts are also far more dangerous for war correspondents.

History

Written war correspondents have existed as long as journalism. Before modern journalism it was more common for longer histories to be written at the end of a conflict. The first known of these is Herodotus's account of the Persian Wars, however he did not himself participate in the events. Thucydides, who some years later wrote a history of the Peloponnesian Wars was an observer to the events he described.

The first modern war correspondent is said to be Dutchmarker painter Willem van de Velde, who in 1653 took to sea in a small boat to observe a naval battle between the Dutch and the English, of which he made many sketches on the spot, which he later developed into one big drawing that he added to a report he wrote to the States General. A further modernization came with the development of newspapers and magazines . One of the earliest war correspondents was Henry Crabb Robinson, who covered Napoleon's campaigns in Spain and Germany for The Times of London.

Crimean War

William Howard Russell, who covered the Crimean War, also for The Times, is often described as the first modern war correspondent. The stories from this era, which were almost as lengthy and analytical as early books on war, took numerous weeks from being written to being published.

Russo Japanese War



It was not until the telegraph was developed that reports could be sent on a daily basis and events could be reported as they occurred that the short mainly descriptive stories of today became common. Press coverage of the Russo-Japanese War was affected by restrictions on the movement of reporters and strict censorship. In all military conflicts which followed this 1904-1905 war, close attention to more managed reporting was considered essential.

First World War

The First World War was the first modern mediated war in the sense that warfare becomes conflicts and controversies between parties who exchange information and arguments indirectly by the mass media and their special correspondents reporting from the front lines of warfare. The discourse in mediated conflicts is influenced by its public character. By forwarding information and arguments to the media, conflict parties attempt to gain support from their constituencies and persuade their opponents.

The continued progress of technology has allowed live coverage of events via satellite up-links. The rise of twenty-four hour news channels has led to a heightened demand for coverage.

Early film and television news rarely had war correspondents. Rather they would simply collect footage provided by other sources, often the government, and the news anchor would then add narration. This footage was often staged as cameras were large and bulky. This changed dramatically with the Vietnam War when networks from around the world sent cameramen with portable cameras and correspondents. This proved damaging to the United States as the full brutality of war became a daily feature on the nightly news.

Notable war correspondents

Some of them became authors of fiction drawing on their war experiences, including Davis, Crane and Hemingway.

19th century



20th century



21st century



General



Books by war correspondents



See also



Notes

  1. Walker, Dale L. "Jack London's War." World of Jack London website.
  2. Kepplinger, Hans Mathias et al. "Instrumental Actualization: A Theory of Mediated Conflicts," European Journal of Communication, Vol. 6, No. 3, 263-290 (1991).
  3. DIXIE, Lady Florence in Who Was Who online at 7345683 at xreferplus.com (subscription required), accessed 11 March 2008
  4. 1966 (inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall Of Fame. video letter to his daughter from Vietnam
  5. Bio, Jacques Leslie, jacquesleslie.com


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