MEDIA/TV: How to present the 'War on Terrorism'

From: Michael Wiik (
Date: Thu Sep 20 2001 - 13:57:22 MDT

In Vietnam, there was a fairly open press and we saw lots of disturbing
pictures of bodies, screaming naked children, napalm, etc. In the Gulf
War, the press was under a great deal of control, and we saw lots of
pictures of precision guided weapons hitting bunkers and aqueducts and

So perhaps we should stop trying to answer the dorky, loser questions --
like how to win a worldwide war against terrorism or protect the U.S.
from further attacks -- and discuss the really tough question facing the
military-infotainment complex today: namely how to produce the war to
get the best ratings.

Somehow I doubt showing million dollar missiles slamming into tents is
gonna do it. After a few press conferences with Powell or whoever
running videos and saying: "Here's the terrorist jeep. Now you see the
missile coming in, and there's the direct hit on the jeep", people are
gonna get tired of that. And they have to show something or uppity
members of the press may decide to try and do their own stories. Like
more and more interviews with tearful relatives of the WTC victims.

One choice is showing blown-up buildings. Unfortunately I'm sure the
sign-making industries in terrorist-supporting countries are busy
churning out 'Baby Milk Plant', 'Orphanage', 'Children's Hospital', and
'Pharmaceutical Factory' signs by the boatload and distributing them
around the countryside, for quick placement at bombed sites before the
media arrives. This might also be an opportunity for countries with a
high infant and child mortality rate to make some extra bucks by
preserving and stocking up on corpses to scatter around bombed sites
along with the signs.

I suppose they could show bodies again. They don't even need to be real,
just shovel some sand in a body bag and lay'em out in neat rows.
Captured weapons caches are another possibility, and again there's
plenty of file footage available. Maybe a gov't buy-back program for
AK47s would be useful here.


Michael Wiik
Messagenet Communications Research
Washington DC Area Internet and WWW Consultants

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