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Unformatted text preview: ship, but as news dispatches were written by bureaucrats with
limited linguistic skills, the Russian public soon learnt how to interpret
the distorted message. The American journalists were also heavily censored and contributed to the propaganda writing. The war in the Pacific
was reported with the same racial overtone so characteristic of the colonial period wars in the Golden Age of war journalism. Both the Americans and the Japanese employed a racist perspective, which facilitated
the dehumanization of the enemy (see also the discussion of the enemy
vilification strategies in Chapter Four). This, in turn, led to appalling
atrocities on both sides. It should come as no surprise that both sides reported only the atrocities of the enemy, and concealed those committed
by their own troops.
The short overview of Knightly’s book presented above does not
do justice to its rich detail and lively style. Still, it clearly shows how war
correspondents contributed to the creation of the Glory of War Myth. Although since the early beginnings of war journalism some of the reporters described the hard ploy of the soldiers and sometimes even dared to
criticise the command, many were oblivious to the war suffering and enthusiastically depicted it as an exhilarating experience (especially in the
Golden Age of war journalism). Already in the Crimean War censorship
steps were taken against the reporters’ freedom of speech. However, it
was not only censorship that should be blamed for the biases in war reports, but also the journalists’ patriotic zeal and their drive for a scoop,
which led them to exaggeration of the enemy’s losses and atrocities, and
minimising of the casualties of their own troops. Correspondents’ personal involvement in the operations often influenced their work, so that
they represented the side they sympathised with in a more favourable
light. Sometimes they were deliberately misinformed by the authorities
they worked with. One of the notorious problems with war reporting was
the journalists’ non-combatant status, as they were often involved in intelligence work for their governments, and some, especially in the late
19th c. but also in the Spanish War, took active part in the fighting. When 102 Chapter III it comes to the phrasing of the romantic legend of the war, the correspondents are responsible for the heroic vocabulary, in which the operations of their own troops were described, for using euphemisms when the
facts were not palatable to their taste, and also for increasing the antagonism between the sides of the conflict through atrocity stories and racial
prejudice, which dehumanised the enemy and both encouraged and justified ruthless brutality in the treatment of the adversary.
7. Linguistics and war
Linguists, when dealing with the domain of war, usually employ what
Charteris-Black (2004) called critical metaphor analysis, which allows
them to show how the use of metaphor highlights and hides certain aspects of the phenomena they are used to enunciate. This ability to manipulate the image of the worl...
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