No one can be completely objective but objectivity is

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Unformatted text preview: ve punishment, little of which found their way into the British press. The press coverage of the First World War was plagued with the same flaws as the previous war accounts, only that this time the results were more acute for the readers. The combination of censorship and a 100 Chapter III belief in the necessity of maintaining their nation’s morale on the part of the reporters led to a serious distortion in the reports of 1914-1916. The propaganda writing created atrocity stories of the German cruelty in Belgium. These false reports, according to Knightly, should be held responsible for the distrust of the Western public when the truth about the concentration camps of the Second World War was revealed in 1945. At times, the misrepresentation of the situation on the front was so severe that in some reports the Battle of the Somme appeared to be a British victory. Thus the readers misinformed by the press were unable to organize effective protests against their Government’s policy. The failure of the journalists to cover the Great War impartially and Hemingway’s fictitious image of the Austro-Italian front, started a new trend in war reporting. The new-style correspondent aimed at detailed and neutral reporting, with a focus on the impact of war on the individual. How hard and idealistic this approach was the reporters were soon to discover. The Spanish War raised yet another problem involved in war journalism, that of a personal involvement of the reporters. The two extreme positions on the issue were represented by Drew Middleton and Herbert Matthews. Middleton (1972, quoted from Knightly 1975: 193) summed up the job of a war correspondent in the following words: “to get the facts and write them with his interpretation of what they mean to the war, without allowing personal feelings about the war to enter into the story. No one can be completely objective but objectivity is the goal”. Matthews (1971: 6, quoted from Knightly 1975: 193), on the other hand, held a contrary view: “I would always opt for honest, open bias. A newspaperman should work with his heart as well as his mind”. Knightly (1975: 216), although clearly drawn to the second position, notices its faults and expresses it in the following words: The drawback of reporting with heart as well as mind is that if the cause is basically just, as the Republican one undoubtedly was, the correspondent tends to write in terms of heroic endeavour, rather than face unpalatable facts, and to mislead his readers with unjustified optimism. When it comes to the reporting of the Second World War, it faced the same problems with censorship and propaganda as the First World War. The concept of ‘war’ in the humanities 101 Goebbels, well aware of the power of the press, the radio, and propaganda films, created special units within the Wermaht, Propaganda Kompanien, drafted from former reporters and artists, which covered the military operations in all war theatres. The casualties they suffered were greater than in regular units. Reporting in Russia was seriously affected by censor...
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