Newsflash: TV Coverage of War Was ?Dumbed Down?

During the recent war on Iraq, a much larger percentage of
Americans turned to television than newspapers to learn about U.S.
military advances. On the off chance that they turned to multiple
news sources covering the war, many couldn?t help but notice some
dissonance between the rosy picture painted by the TV networks and
the stories being told from the front lines by embedded newspaper
reporters. ?The war they saw, or thought they saw, on TV was
meticulously planned, flawlessly executed?and not a single member
of the armed forces has a complaint or a problem,? says Ron Martz,
military-affairs reporter for the Atlanta
, in a recent essay for Editor &
. Some readers were upset to read Martz writing about
bloody street fighting in parts of Baghdad, while they were
watching jubilant Iraqis celebrate the fall of Saddam on Fox News.
As Martz, an ex-Marine, filed reports about the realities of what
he saw on the ground??a war that was confusing and chaotic, as are
all wars??angry emails poured in questioning his patriotism, his
ancestry, even his sexuality. One reader suggested he get a job
with Al-Jazeera. Another suggested he ?start watching more Fox TV
to get an unbiased view of the war.? Martz says a friend recently
suggested that TV has dumbed down American news audiences, lowering
the collective IQ. He?s beginning to believe she?s right. ?What
they seemed to want from this war was for the coverage to fit their
own biases and preconceived notions. No other views were tolerated.
And TV seems in large part to have given them exactly what they
?Nick Garafola

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