How the Media Presents War from WW II to Today

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Few would argue that war is a good thing. Some, however, would describe it as a necessary evil while others may feel that it is avoidable and unnecessary to say the least. There is also the fact that not every war is the same. Most Americans, for example, support the United States stepping into World War II and the fight against Nazism but many more disagreed with our involvement in Vietnam. To better understand the differences in perception, it helps to look at how the media historically presents war.

WW II and The Media

During World War II, there was no real question about U.S involvement after Pearl Harbor. The news media of the time was not trying to “show both sides” or question the ethics of war. Instead, the role of radio and newspapers was to support the troops and the war effort at home. Beyond the news, the entertainment industry was committed to holding American soldiers up as heroes. This was clear from the day’s popular comic books and radio programs depicting a battle of good versus evil.

The Korean War

Interestingly enough, the Korean War was not far removed from WW II in terms of time, but media presentation and public opinion had begun to shift. It was not that 1950s America thought any less of those who served in Korea, but they certainly did not receive the hype of WW II vets before them. This could signify that our culture was shifting away from the simplistic view of good verses evil to look at war as a more complex issue. On the other hand, it could be that Americans were simply less interested in the sacrifices made overseas.

A Cultural Shift During Vietnam

Vietnam changed everything. Vietnam veterans were treated much differently upon returning home than veterans of previous wars. Protests against the war erupted throughout the nation. The country was extremely divided. This shift in perspective had much to do with media coverage of the conflict. Never before had everyday Americans witnessed so much of the brutality of war as they did on the evening news. This had to impact the way people felt.

Modern War and the Media

As most things do, our approach to war and veterans made a circle in recent decades. As we looked back on the treatment of Vietnam veterans or the brave soldiers of the Korean War being forgotten, American perspectives shifted again. Throughout conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a “Support the Troops” movement emerged. We learned from the mistakes of the past and changed. Additionally, the news media now reflects the complexity of war in its reporting and yet reports less on what our service members experience. Overall, are we doing better or worse? Is the media doing right by those who serve?

We support all who served and helped to make this country great. That is why we support a bill we call The Greatest Generation Benefits Act. This legislation would give back to those who gave the most. Learn more and sign our petition here. Keep up with the latest on this bill by following us on Facebook and Twitter.