Class Notes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We will work on catching up on the syllabus.

Bragging about our blogs.

Example: Quicken Loans backlash (people think that they’re relating back to the 2008 mortgage crisis, but they’re just trying to market their product).

Example: Cam Newton walking out of a press release seeming like a sore loser.

Example: *Three people wrote about it. Water crisis in Flint, Michigan; Beyoncé is starting a fund to help; a little girl has lead poisoning & her parents are suing Flint because of it; Flint apparently hid their actual levels of lead in it, and they also did not check their reservoirs before distributing the water. Public servants have been lying, and were trying to find a way to blame it on the city, but it was the state who was hiding the information. They knew for 10 months and didn’t say a word. The mayor is furious about it and it will take $1-1.8 billion to solve this problem. They have to replace the pipes and deal with lawsuits, pay for medical bills (7 people died because of a disease due to respiratory bacteria found in the water). The governor is only going to give Flint $28 million, and FEMA can’t cover more than $5 million since it’s a man-made catastrophe. Lansing, Michigan reporters looked into their water and they found that the pipes were made of lead.

“I think it will kind of focus other journalists to look into their own cities…look at what they drink. Will launch a whole wave of stories.” 

Example: Barbies are being redesigned; current barbies would not be able to hold their heads up, have all their organs, and other things. They now have different races, too.

It’s really a problem putting personal things on Facebook.

Reporting America At War documentary;



  • Reporters are the first lines of correspondans
  • “We are the first eyes, first ears, the first to tell a certain story. without us, who?”
  • American War correspondents have told us about themselves
  • Balanced their objectivity on the field
  • National security v. the public’s right to know
  • Stories from the frontline celebrated the heroes
  • They shaped the way a half-century of war would be remembered
  • It was a young man’s dream to be a reporter

The Romance of War

– Spanish American War: seen as a just war, Spain was a far-away power, & there would be public support if it was portrayed well

  • New York Herald scored Richard Harding Davis
    • Wanted to be more famous than Mark Twain
    • Used romantic language to make war seem more like an adventure
    • Period when reporting was becoming a dashing profession (glamorous, romantic)
    • Some journalists were forced to sign their names on their writings to prevent exaggeration
    • Davis was confident that his reporting would take him to the frontline, so he wrote a will
    • Was banned from going on land
    • Talked to Theodore Roesevelt who allowed him to go
      • TR charged on his horse, and Davis wrote about him and made him a hero
      • Once Davis came home, TR was a national figure; Davis was the country’s premier war correspondent
      • Spent the rest of his life covering stories from around the world
      • Then, in Summer 1914, World War 1 broke out in Europe, & Davis rushed to the scene & saw invasion of Brussels
    • For 3 days & 3 nights, soldiers “cut Brussels in two”
    • Davis saw little of the action, because they wouldn’t allow people to report on the frontline – ended up being captured by the Germans accused of being a spy
      • He packed up and went home; Died April 11, 1916. Still famous
  • Laconia ship sank from a German U-Boat
    • American government now enlisted the press to mobilize public opinion behind the war
    • Barred from combat zones & had heavy censorship, they had to echo original propaganda
    • “Advance calls of democracy”
    • The real horror of the western front went largely unreported
      • “Press never fully covered it to show how God-awful it was”
      • American people didn’t get a feel for what trench warfare was like until later on in novels
      • Ernest Hemingway believed that this was not good
    • For the first time in the history of modern warfare, civilians were being targeted as well
      • U.S. didn’t offer any help after WWI
      • A small group of Americans, they wanted to help in Spain
    • Turning point in history
    • Over the next 2 years, a handful of American writers would journey to Spain to report the Republican forces
      • Langston Hughs was one of those reporters
    • NY Times covered fighting along with Ernest Hemingway
      • Companion was Martha Gellhorn
      • Wanted to go to Spain with him, but he was married and 10 yrs older than she was
      • Her idea was to join the people and see what she good do
      • Never wrote anything until Hemingway and Matthews told her to write about it
        • she wrote about daily life
        • “You never think you will get hurt in your own parlor”
        • Talked about the children
        • Stern writing, which made the things she was writing seem that much worse
        • Wrote a lot of detail; she was seeing something that no one else could see & her job was to inform people and make them interested in it; wanted to make people feel something
        • “Honorable Course”
        • The Americans who went to Spain wanted people to know of the terrible things that were happening
          • Reporters often underplayed the terrible things
          • choosing sides in a war is not necessarily a bad thing; spurred them on to try harder to get a story
          • If the Fascists weren’t defeated there and then, then WWII was inevitable
          • In 1949, the Republican Army surrendered; Spain was not the place to stop fascism
          • Reminder of loveliness in the world
          • Bravery and suffering for nothing
    • 5 months after the fascists triumph in Spain, Hitler’s army attacked Poland
      • CBS went live from a basement of BBC’s radio house in London
      • Microphone was given to Edward R. Murrow
        • Murrow sent real reporters into the streets of Europe to get the stories themselves
        • His wife was also a correspondent
        • Was the onset of WWII
      • For a time, CBS would be the only network with reporters at the scene
        • Reported everything
        • Then, the Germans began dropping bombs on London
          • Murrow knew the powers of silence
          • Talked about details & had admiration for the people of London
          • Saw the suffering they were undertaking
          • Murrow’s broadcasts changed the way many Americans thought about the war
            • “We knew that the dead were our dead. Without rhetoric and dramatics.”
            • December 7, 1941, Murrow and his wife were invited to dinner
            • Roosevelt told him what happened at Pearl Harbor
            • Murrow didn’t know if he should write about it or forget about it, so he didn’t write it because he felt it would be wrong
            • For the next four days, the navy maintained an information blackout
            • War declared on Japan in December 8, 1941 & then Germany declared war on U.S.
            • It was a war with a great sense of national purpose; everyone believed in the cause; loss would have resulted in fascist world domination
            • Hundreds of media people were given permission to cover the war; their dispatches would have to be sent for review, but they were considered an extension of the soldiers
            • Could also be decorated; “Corespondents have a job in war. Fundamentally, public opinion wins wars.”
            • American public didn’t know about Pearl Harbor for a while, and Murrow didn’t say anything even though he was the only one who reported

HOMEWORK: what image of the war correspondent emerges? Think about this.

Direct quotes

Trying to recreate the image of the American War Correspondent

Other piece: if you have a grandparent, talk to your grandparent about WWII & what they remember; just make a quick call and ask about war reporting during the war





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