5/23/2010

Blogs I visited

I post links to blogs of my classmates that I have found interesting.

http://meidapeto.blogspot.com/ by Peter Cizek is a blog focusing on issues of privacy - or more specifically the lack of it - in the contemporary media. Peter shows concern of how the contemporary media steal out privacy.

http://muslimedia-mls.blogspot.com/ This is a blog by Martina Slozilova that focuses on the portrayal of Muslim in the Media. Since 9/11, the portrayal of Muslims in the Western media has been mostly negative. This blog got me thinking about the stereotyping and also about certain connection with my topic, the military. As I stated at the beginning, I focus mostly on the Western military simply because there is most coverage. Because of that, I started thinking that maybe those media that are too pozitive in their portrayal of the military are too negative in their portrayal of the Muslims, because of contemporary places of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. And also vice verse, positive portrayal of Muslims might be counterbalanced by negative portrayal of military. That is something I may explore in future posts.

http://akvablog.wordpress.com/ This blog by Anna Kvasnickova shows how advertising become a natural part of our lives and it focues on "Pro social advertising", the ads that do not sell any specific product or service but serve awareness. I specifically liked the video by Bristol Palin about teenage pregnancy and the difficulties connected with the.

http://21070-censored.blogspot.com/ Michal Klicnik writes about censorship on the Internet. One of his examples is China. I learned an interesting thing about the paid government employees who visit websites with negative information about the government and write there government-positive comments. That was something both interesting and frightening.

http://pete-stejskal.blogspot.com/ Finally Pete Stejskal focues on the possible end of the print media as a medium. The blog focuses on the loses of sells of print newspapers (and also magazines, which I found surprising) that are being replaced by Internet media.

I hope you will visits these blogs and leave a comment. If you like this blog, you may like those as well. :-)

5/16/2010

Military in the Media

The issue of portrayal of Military people in the media varies from country to country, from newspaper to newspaper. Everyone has a different agenda both as a private person or as a newspaper owner. Also there are many kinds of media from traditional newspapers to computer games and social media like Facebook. The main point of this blog was that media should distinguish between the military personel and the various conflicts they are involved in. It would however seem that media and also the general public nowadays manage to make this distinction.

Media were used in connection with the military already in the First World War with the short propaganda films and posters, where Germans portrayed their soldiers and their nation as naturally superior and the British portrayed German soldiers as bloodthirsty barbarians (Nesbitt). The Second World War probably more or less expanded this issue of propaganda. But a great step in media evolution in regards of military most likely happened in the Vietnam War. This war was covered by the media probably more than any previous one and the American public was often unable to distinguish between the notion of war and the people who were in it. That is why people were often vile to the veterans who returned from Vietnam (Herbert) and called them baby killer as was explained in one of the previous posts (Herbert). This most likely make many returning soldiers feel like they do not belong back to the society they left.

In modern day, the situation most likely improved with portrayal of military servicemen and women in the media. During the Iraq invasion in 2003, a Rolling Stone journalist Evan Wright was coming with the 1st Recon Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps and described the situation from his point of view and the point of view of the marines he was with (Waxman). It mostly focues on the marines themselves, not on any global political issues concerning the war, but on the small things that were usually overlooked like the way the marines talk among themselves or the simple search of where to take a dump in the desert (Waxman). Wright was apparently one of the people who were greatly able to distinguish between the people and the conflict.

Nowadays, wars have most likely even greater media coverage then ever before, with reporters probably going regularly with soldiers into the field. Writer David Weber in his interview conducted by Blackfive server stated that the higher media coverage may force the soldiers to think more about what they are doing (Weber) since they know the entire world is watching. He uses an example with Vietnam, where American soldiers could pursue a escaping Viet Cong member into a village where he loses himself among the civilians. According to Weber, at that time, the soldiers could simply kill everyone in the village, because then they would be certain they managed to kill the Viet Cong member, but nowadays, they simply cannot do it, because they are constantly checked by the media and by extension the public. (Weber). Of course there are attrocities conducted by soldiers nowadays, like the prisoner abuse in Iraq, but with higher media coverage, these things probably do not happen as often as they used to in the era of Vietnam for example. And when they do happen, they are most likely found out and the perpetrators are punished.

No system is perfect, but the misuse of power, like the prisoner torture, is almost certainly a failing of an individuals, not the military and its servicemen as a whole. The original argument about division between the conflict and the soldiers in it had a point to make the media portray the soldiers as a individual people and not directly connected with the issue of the war itself. But people are both moral and immoral, so the media of course shoud present also the negative stories about the soldiers, like the issue of prisoner abuse. Such things would probably make the military self reflecting. During war there is probably a tendency - even by the private media - to publish only the positive stories. But as Tom Kratman points out in his interview (Kratman), if there are no negative stories, then the positive loose their impact, because the public would know that they will not get any negative stories and may start to think of all the positive stories purely as a propaganda. (Kratman) However it seem that the media in a way manage to make a distinction between a war and the soldiers themselves. And nowaday, when individual soldiers are allowed to use social media ("Military allows Twitter"), they can make themselves heard directly without having to go through military PR or any censorship.

Modern use of media most likely makes any kind of censorship useless. And that is probably one of the main reasons the servicemen are now easier to approach and seen as ordinary people and not just the faceless extension of the government's foreign policy.

Works Cited:
Herbert, Bob. "An Overdue 'Welcome Home'." New York Times. May 15, 2010.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/15/opinion/15herbert.html

Kratman, Tom. "An Interview with Tom Kratman." May 15, 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXK9UyiLQSI

"Military allows Twitter, other social media." Reuters. May 15, 2010.
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61Q07G20100227

Nesbitt, Todd. "International Media Systems." Class lecture. 2009.

Weber, David. "An Interview with David Weber." May 15, 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VyvtO4wZVU

Waxman, Sharon. "Sparing No One, a Journalist's Account of War." May 16, 2010.
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/10/books/sparing-no-one-a-journalist-s-account-of-war.html

Military in Video Games?

Computer/Video Games have always been a controversial issue with general public. However it is a medium which becomes more and more important, especially (but not only) for young people and therefore we should not ignore it or dismiss it as uninportant.

Video Games are often being criticized because of violence and the effect they may have on youth. However Games also portray military, some more loosely, some more specifically. I will use the recent example of a game called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 by Infinity Ward ("Call of Duty") The game is a part of a popular franchize Call of Duty which portray military conflicts in a form of a "first person shooter." The first three installments took place during the Second World War, but the last two, labelled "Modern Warfare" takes place in a modern enviroment within a fictional story. ("Call of Duty")

The games portray generally soldiers and other servicemen in a positive light, showing them as a likeable characters the player can takes role of or interact with. However since the Modern Warfare 2 is primarily published on the Western market, the villain in the game are mainly terrorists from Arabic countries and Russia. The game also portrays fictional conflict between Russia and USA ("Call of Duty") So while the gama portrays American and British soldiers positively and as people with faults and traits, it can be argued that it does enforce the typical stereotypes of the Cold War and the contemporary conflicts in the Middle East.


There were also some issues regarding violence in the game ("Game Review"), because of the scene in the game where group of terrorists - including the player - is shooting civilians in an airport. The justification for it is that the player at that time is supposed to be a double agent earning the trust of a terrorist leader ("Game Review"). While it is true that the player does not need to fire on the civilians and the game would progress anyway, many critics claimed that this was already too much, because it was probably the first time in gaming history that murdering of civilians on such high scale could have been carried out by the player ("The 10 most shocking moments of the decade"). This part is essential to the story, but the game also offers player to skip this level. ("Call of Duty") So is this really damaging? It probably varies from person to person. If you are reading this, what is your opinion?


Newertherless, games like this may increase the awereness of military and soldiers in a good way, but violent parts like this may create a negative publicity concerning the games in general and military-themed games in particular. But maybe even negative publicity creates awareness and makes people more interested in the issue.

Do you have any thoughts on that?

Works Cited
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2." Infinity Ward. Nov. 10, 2009.

"Game Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2." Military.com Games. May 15, 2010.
http://www.military.com/entertainment/games/game-reviews/game-review-call-of-duty-modern-warfare-2

"The 10 most shocking moments of the decade." GameRadar. May 15, 2010
http://www.gamesradar.com/f/the-10-most-shocking-game-moments-of-the-decade/a-20091221122845427051/p-2

Pictures Source:
"Modern-Warfare-2-No-Russian.jpg." May 15, 2010.
http://g2.stahuj.centrum.cz/hratelne/793/modern-warfare-2-no-russian.jpg

"Modern Warfare2.jpg."May 15, 2010.
http://www.go386.com/culture/images/Modern-Warfare-2.jpg

Just for fun - Full Metal Jacket

video

The famous movie Full Metal Jacket by Stanley Kubrick was probably not meant by the promotion or any official support of the military or the servicemen. The movie summary often mentions the portrayal od the dehumanizing process the recruits are put into before going to war ("Full Metal Jacket"). You can watch piece of that in this video. In the comment section on Youtube, some people who by their statement are ex-marines state that this is how it works in the real Boot Camp and some stated that movies like this actually convinced them to join the U. S. Marine Corps ("Full Metal Jacket - 10 Minutes of Boot Camp.") Of course there is no proof for what they are saying concerning the reasons they joined. But the actor playing the Drill Instructor is a real former DI, who simply played it as he done it in reality. ("R. Lee Ermey")

By my opinion this is arguably one of the best war movies made. Worth watching. It does not portray the soldiers as a heroes, but neither as a villain. More like a people in strange situation. And everybody is influenced differently by the boot camp and the Vietnam War.

Works Cited
"Full Metal Jacket." Internet Movie Database. May 15, 2010.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093058/synopsis

"Full Metal Jacket - 10 Minutes of Boot Camp." Youtube. May 15, 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8Nf1MK7lts

"R. Lee Ermey." Internet Movie Database. May 15, 2010.
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000388/bio

Document for Vietnam Veterans

Collumnist Bob Herbert described a recent document made ba Wisconsin PublicTelevision about the Vietnam veterans in Wisconsin (Herbert). The goal is to give veterans "an overdue welcome home" (Herbert) which they did not receive after they returned from Vietnam forty years ago. The document is called "Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories" and is composed of collection of memories by former soldiers who talk about their Vietnam experience and how they were treated by the public after they returned. (Herbert)

The Vietnam War was one of the examples how the public often cannot distinguish between the soldiers and the conflict they are involved in. The war was long and in the end most likely very negatively received by the people and negatively portrayed by the media. One of the soldiers remembers that upon returning home, he was being called a baby killer and told that he should have died in Vietnam. (Herbert). But the soldiers probably did not care about the politics (or at least most of them did not) and they did not cause the war, most of them were draftees and they should not be villified by the publics and media just because they were forced to fight and die in an unpopular war. A war in which most of them almost certainly suffered and watched other people suffer.

The article also has an interesting discussion by readers attached to it if you would care to follow it. As I stated in the first post, it is important to separate the people in uniform from wars they fight in and not let your opinion on one influence the opinion on the other.


Works Cited
Herbert, Bob. "An Overdue 'Welcome Home'." New York Times. May 15, 2010.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/15/opinion/15herbert.html

Where to go?

Here I list links to several interesting webpages and blogs regarding the Military and it's connection with Media and PR.

Blackfive - www.blackfive.net - it is a webpage used by several soldiers and ex-soldiers for blogging. They comment on current issues, offer their opinion, support the servicemen and women, share experience of other soldiers and also present their worldview. The page also serves as a hub connecting to many other military blogs (or milblogs).

USS Abraham Lincoln Homepage - www.lincoln.navy.mil - these are the official websites of the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Every big ship in the US Navy has its own webpages that on one side serves to inform the public about the current events happening on the ship (for example battle drill certificate, Thanksgiving celebration etc.) and on the other as the contact information and other general guidelines for new crewmembers.

Military - www.military.com - is an webpage that serves as a portal and community for the members of the US Military. It consists of job offers, promoting military-themed products as well as rectuiting information. It is a useful example of medializing the military service, making it more available and more interconnected with ordinary life.

Works Cited
Blackfive. May 15, 2010.
www.blackfive.net

Military. May 15, 2010.
www.military.com

USS Abraham Lincoln. May 15, 2010.
www.lincoln.navy.mil

Pentagon Allows the use of Social Media

According to Reuters ("Military allows Twitter"), on February 2010 the US Military allowed servicemen to use Twitter, facebook and other social media. It was previously banned citing security reasons. Military most likely usually is very slow in implementing new inovations or media and probably prefers to err on the side of caution. However on February the Pentagon officials stated that the US Military needs to take advantage of the media, aspecially in reaching out to young people ("Military allows Twitter")

This is a great step into making military - and military people - more medialized. It offers posibility to make soldiers communicate directly with other people over social networks and their followers might see them as more than just a faceless soldiers. That might be good both as a PR and as a way for the public to distinguish between soldiers and the global issues of conflict they are involved in. Through social media, people can interact directly with the servicemen and get their point of view on the situation in their immidiate surrounding - the small picture.

Former soldier and writer Tom Kratman stated in his interview made by Blackfive server (Kratman) that nowadays before combat mission, the commanding officer would probably need to collect soldier's cell phones, because coverage is almost everywhere and the soldiers might be tempted to call home if the situation becomes bad. Kratman point out how that may feel like to the parents of spouses of the soldiers who would hear him or her in the gunfire and then the connection would be suddently lost (Kratman). Kratman however states that overall the use of blogs and other social media by soldiers is a good things (Kratman).

It may be good for morale. Some officials may be worried that it may be a bad things if soldiers write how the situation is bad or how the morale is low. Kratman states, that if many soldiers of the unit write how the morale is low, then "maybe it's time to change the commanders." (Kratman)

There was probably a concern about security risks while using the social media, but security risk is most likely also with phones, and e-mail and blogs. One of the argument for allowing social media ("Military allows Twitter") was that thousands of people can already make security leaks through e-mail or cell phones, so that there is no point in restricting social media like Twitter of Facebook. ("Military allows Twitter")

As was stated before, military is most likely slow to implement change and some of it's officials may feel that there is no point in fixing something that was not broken. But allowing the use of social networks may prove to be a valuable way to increase the publics understanding of the military servicemen and women and their job.


Works Cited

Kratman, Tom. "An Interview with Tom Kratman." May 15, 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXK9UyiLQSI

"Military allows Twitter, other social media." Reuters. May 15, 2010.
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61Q07G20100227