CBS Lets the Pentagon Taint Its News Process

Berry, Stephen J.
September 2004
Nieman Reports;Fall2004, Vol. 58 Issue 3, p76
This article focuses on the natural tempo and rhythm of war news process in the U.S. The spontaneous type of newsperson is what drives most good journalists. It is the force behind what Richard Hanley, director of journalism and e-media at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, calls the natural tempo and rhythm of the news process. When it flows as it should, a journalist gets a story idea, gathers and verifies the facts, and submits the story for editing. The news organization publishes it without delay and lets the chips fall where they may. Editors normally do not let anyone mess with the tempo and rhythm of the news process absent compelling evidence that a story, such as one revealing troop movements or battle plans, would directly result in dire consequences. They must be especially protective of this decision-making process when bad news is about to emerge, for that is when government tries to use its influence to lessen a story's impact on public reaction. By resisting such efforts, editors and producers protect the public's right to an independent press and shield the news against government manipulation. The U.S. government has been masterful at managing war news. It has leaked false prewar information to bolster it argument that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, embedded journalist with frontline units, and prohibited shootings photographs of flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers.


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