Vietnam War and the Media: Narrative Essay

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Some historians argue that the broadcasting of the Vietnam War and the effect that that had on the American people was the reason for the Americans losing the war. Daniel Hallin, Professor of Communications asserts, 'What was the effect of television on the development and outcome of the war? The conventional wisdom has generally been that for better or worse it was an anti-war influence: The argument has often been made that any war reported in an unrestricted way by television would eventually lose public support.' Hallin correctly identifies that the role of the media was the reason for American failure.

Attached is a picture that was taken at My Lai on 16 March 1968. The picture depicts the bodies of those killed in My Lai. My Lai was an American-led search and destroy mission in the Quang Ngai region of southern Vietnam. Charlie Company in the early hours of the morning entered My Lai and in the following hours somewhere between 300 and 400 civilians (mainly women and children) were killed. The search and destroy mission had been to uncover Viet Cong soldiers however, no Viet Cong was found not only that but only three weapons were recovered meaning that the Vietnamese did not fight back. The My Lai massacre as it became known shocked the American people as it gave them an insight into what was going on in Vietnam. The My Lai massacre broadcasting supports Hallin, this is because when the American people saw the images from My Lai, they were shocked and disgusted. 'The horrors of war entered the living rooms of the Americans' this extract from a blog called The Warbird's forum describes how the American people also felt it illudes to how the Vietnam War also became known as the war fought from the living room.

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In conclusion, Hallin is correct when he says that television would eventually lose public support. If the American people had not been able to see what was happening in Vietnam, then they would not have protested. The anger the American people felt began to spill from the living rooms to the streets this is where America lost the battle. The police and army were needed to break up riots and fights. This in turn meant that forces were needed at home as well as in Vietnam. The fights and protests spread American resources to much meaning to stop all the American people from rebelling against the government America had to pull out of Vietnam to stop the fighting at home.

The role of the media affected people's perceptions of the Vietnam War this, in turn, links the theme of the role of the media and the anti-war movement. Melvin Small argues that by 1967 nearly half of the American civilians had turned their back on the war in Vietnam, 'As 1967 began 32 percent of those polled thought that intervention had been a mistake. By the end of the year, that number rose to 45 percent: throughout 1967 as the movement continued to promote a wide variety of imaginative national and local activities, increasing numbers of politicians, journalists, and other public figures began to express their opposition to American intervention. One person who spoke out against the Vietnam War was civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The picture attached shows Martin Luther King at the March on the Pentagon. The March on the Pentagon took place on 21 October 1967 it was an anti-war attempt to storm the Pentagon. There were approximately 100,00 protesters there that day however, they were stopped by US Marshals. More famously though was King's speech at the Riverside Church in Harlem, New York on April 4, 1967. Here King delivered a speech called 'Beyond Vietnam' In this speech he said, 'We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So, we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So, we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit.' King's speech highlighted the racial problems in America and argued that if they did not fight for his rights then why should he fight in a war for others' rights? This feeling of inequality was already being felt this is shown by groups such as the black panthers who used violence to get their point across. Many people turned out to listen to King's speech his words in turn were able to spread across America and unite people into turning against the war this is shown by the statistics in Small's quote. With the American government facing a united front at home there was no way they could win a war this is because they would have no way to fund and fuel the war. If people disagreed with what they were fighting for they would just refuse to go on in the case of some soldiers stopping taking orders from the commanders and start killing them instead of the Viet Cong.

In conclusion, Small is correct in saying that the American people had begun to turn against the war. Not only do statistics show this but the year in which they apply was when the anti-war movement was at its highest. If the American people agreed with the war and had not fought against it there is a high chance, they could have won. The American soldiers were not losing big battles only the small ones. However, the American people were sick of a war that in their eyes had no end and was just a waste of not only weapons but people as well.

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Vietnam War and the Media: Narrative Essay. (2024, February 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
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