Roger Stahl

  • *Reprinted with permission from PeaceNews

    Over the past 35 years, the people of Iraq have had little peace.

    The country has been the central theatre for the […]

    • 43574955 Rin Shimada – Written Critical Blog

      Angels of War – A Beautiful Iraq

      For the short essay I have chosen to do a blog review. The Vision Machine is a fascinating website, and I was particularly interested in the article ‘Iraq: Angels of War’ by Roger Stahl (2016 : 1). This was a reprint of a news report from PeaceNews, which focused on photojournalist Jamal Penjweny and his exhibition of photographs featuring everyday Iraqi citizens with bearing angel wings. Jamal’s ultimate goal was to put the Iraqi people in a different light, both to the locals who may be temped by extremism, and the Western world who have a negative view towards them. This was a very fascinating article and was quite thought provoking, and I find the focus on the power of photojournalism to be extremely interesting.

      As quoted by Jamal himself, “we have art, we have culture, we have life. I want to show people the other side of the war”. There is no doubt that the images portrayed of the war are mostly of disaster, ruin and catastrophe, and there is no escaping the negative light that the country of Iraq as a whole has been put in. This has frustrated Jamal immensely, and undoubtedly many other fellow Iraqis. He took it upon himself to slowly change the negative perception of the Iraqi people. This is why he photographed everyday Iraqi citizens, including men, women, and children, wearing angel wins. This is undoubtedly to symbolise their innocence and goodness, and their separation from the evil that has corrupted Iraq though extremism. Undoubtedly the western media has always put all their focus onto the Islamic State, and the evil that corrupts them, without giving much mention to the everyday people who are caught in the middle of the conflict. Mainstream media has a tendency to completely disregard the ordinary, innocent citizens who have been implicated unfairly, despite being the ones who are suffering the most. Furthermore, this may allow those who are thinking that extremism is the only way to survive that there are other options, and they are not entirely plagued by badness. There is no doubt that photo journalism is a powerful tool, and this blog has shown that Jamal has harnessed its power to show the beauty of Iraq.

      The intersection between images and politics has been a very popular topic in IR, as visual politics can be extremely influential. There is undoubtedly great support by the field of IR regarding the effect of visual politics and the media, and as stated by Roland Bleiker, “Images play an increasingly important role in global politics”. As stated by Manheim and Albritton, “Social scientists have long recognized the importance of images and symbols in public information campaigns” (1983: 642). Images have the ability to completely change the public’s view of a specific event or conflict, and the power of visual politics is something that political leaders and states are grappling to harness. An example of a powerful image with immense political force is the iconic image of a young naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam War (Hansen 2015:265). Even today, if we were to have to think of only one image to represent the Vietnam War, for a large percentage of society, this image would be the one. This ideology regarding the power of images is exacerbated even more today, as seemingly everything in today’s society is digitised, and “the world has witnessed an explosion in visual technology and media” (Kirkpatrick 2015: 200). It is impossible to separate a conflict from the media coverage that surrounds it.

      The literature surrounding this area is undoubtedly in agreement that images hold a significant amount of power, and harnessing this can make a great change in perceptions of an event or conflict. This clearly corroborates with Jamal’s goals, as Jamal believes very strongly in the power of images such as his own in influencing global politics and norms. There is very little criticism that I can muster regarding the quality of the blog. It was a genuine, honest article from the point of view of someone who was directly involved in the conflict. Furthermore, this article was well written and was undoubtedly fascinating enough to hold my full and undivided attention for the whole duration that I was reading it. However the article was quite short and didn’t touch on some things that I was curious about. For example, he said that this project was inspired by a meeting he once had with accused terrorists in custody, but he does not elaborate on how this actually inspired him. Was he inspired by the strong spirit of wrongly accused terrorists, or was he horrified by their point of view and feeling obligated to deter others from doing the same? However apart from that, this was a great article, and the images truly were beautiful, as seen in the videos, and there is little criticism that I can provide. The only recommendation that I can provide is to elaborate more on the actual project that he is working on, and maybe show more images if possible in the video. However, I do acknowledge that this is a transcript of a news video, and thus out of the hands of the publisher of this blog
      Without a doubt, the influential power of images in conflict and politics is undeniable, and is continue to evolving more and more with our modern society. It is truly inspiring that Jamal has decided to dedicate his talent towards supporting his nation and contributing to the war effort by using his talent to dissuade his fellow Iraqis from joining the Islamist movement. Furthermore, the positive side of Iraq is not something that is often given the spotlight in mainstream media. Jamal insists “We have art, we have culture, we have life. I want to show people the other side of the war”. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog and believe that it is a brilliant contribution to his country and to the world of art. As Juliet Juliet den Oudendammer from Art Represent said, “even in a bad situation, there is always hope,”. I believe that by continuing to show the sheer beautify of humanity through these powerful, symbolic images, it can allow us to unite and pave the way for a greater future for all.

      • References
        Bleiker, Roland. 2015. ‘Pluralist Methods for Visual Global Politics’. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 43(3): 872-890.

        Hansen, Lene. 2015. ‘How images make world politics: International icons and the case of Abu Ghraib’. Review of International Studies 41(1): 263-288.

        Manheim, Jarol B. and Robert B. Albritton. 1983. ‘Changing National Images: International Public Relations and Media Agenda Setting’. The American Political Science Review 78(1): 641-657.

        Stahl, Roger. 2016. Iraq: Angels of War. Accessed 16 October 2016. Available at http://thevisionmachine.com/2016/06/iraq-angels-of-war/.

Cyberterrorism, cyberwar, espionage, the Great Firewall of China, surveillance, human rights, Snowden, […]

  • The University of Queensland POLS3512 (Dr Sebastian Kaempf) Critical Blog Assignment:

    The Vision Machine’s “Innerview” with professor of political science Ron Deibert explores the topics of surveillance, human rights, cyberwar and cyberterrorism, all themes that hold great significance in contemporary political and security debates. The Innerview is filmed at Prof Deibert’s interdisciplinary research facility at the University of Toronto – the “Citizen Lab”.

    At the start of the Innerview, Prof Deibert makes it clear that the goal of the Citizen Lab is to “lift the lid on the Internet”. Dr Sebastian Kaempf begins by asking about the differences between today’s hypertechnological age and the various technological advances that have occurred in the past. At this point, Prof Deibert is cautious about making any profound claims about our current era, but he does say that today’s hypertechnological society is remarkably different in that we have never before shared so much of our private lives with third party companies that are often not subject to our own jurisdiction. In fact, he argues, there is a dire need for a new social contract to protect the privacy of individuals and hold big data companies accountable. He then goes on to say that the power over this data actually lies in the hands of those who control the complex physical infrastructure of the Internet (e.g. Internet service providers, Internet exchange points, satellites, cables, etc.). If a government or a company controls the infrastructure, they can monitor and shape communications to exercise power. Prof Deibert then elaborates on how the flow of information and communication can be controlled, including the Internet censorship methods employed by states such as Iran and China.

    On the topic of cyberterrorism, Prof Deibert says the concept has been “grossly distorted” and is prone to inciting panic or startling people into accepting policies of mass surveillance. He believes that although the technology to organise violent terrorising events is developing, terrorist organisations do not currently prioritise such operations. Prof Deibert says it is far more effective and spectacular to perform a suicide bombing in a public place than it is to disrupt proceedings by using technology to hijack infrastructure – though this may change. As for cyberwar, he says certain groups such as the Syrian government have already used malware to infiltrate networks of opposition groups and use this information to target and kill these opponents. Prof Deibert considers these operations to be dangerous, but he is again reluctant to use the word terrorism because it is too “loaded”.

    In order to examine the strength of the arguments made in this Spotlight, they need to be placed in the context of the existing academic literature. For the purpose of brevity, only the concepts of cyberterrorism and the ethical debate surrounding Internet surveillance will be analysed here.

    On the controversial subjects of cyberterrorism and cyberwar, Prof Deibert is cautious of using terminology that might scare people into giving up their right to privacy without holding the government accountable. One of the main questions raised in the academic literature is whether or not such a threat exists in the first place. Goodman, Kirk and Kirk (2007: 193) argue that terrorist organisations are rapidly obtaining the capabilities to utilise cyberspace for terrorist attacks and that it is “likely” they will explore these avenues in the future. They outline various reasons why cyber terror would be an attractive option for these organisations, including: anonymity, force multiplication and psychological effects (Goodman, Kirk and Kirk 2007: 196-198). This argument contradicts that of Prof Deibert, as he believes cyberterrorism is not as attractive to terrorist groups as traditional operations like suicide bombing. Supporting this view is Rid’s (2012: 26) article, which states that terrorists use cyberspace as “neither just target nor weapon”, but rather as a platform for ideological debate and, to a lesser degree, for the dissemination of instructional material. Heickerö (2014: 564) agrees in that “the internet has become an important tool” for violent extremists, but he instead stresses the role played by cyberspace in the organisation and recruitment of terrorist groups. The article concludes by stating that it is currently unknown if terrorist organisations have the capacity to carry out physical attacks using cyberspace, which could include targeting air traffic control systems or energy infrastructure (Heickerö 2014: 564). Kenney’s (2015: 111) article reflects Prof Deibert’s views on how the threat of cyberterrorism has been overstated in sensationalist language by the United States government. Phrases such as “a cyber Pearl Harbour” and “[creating] worldwide havoc” have been used by various senior government figures in the past 15 years (Kenney 2015: 111-112). Kenney (2015: 128) concludes by supporting Prof Deibert’s statement that terrorists are currently more likely to carry out simpler and more conventional “flesh-and-blood” attacks than engage in cyberterrorism. However, like Prof Deibert, Kenney does not rule out an escalation into cyberterrorism in the future (2015: 128).

    The second argument to be discussed is Prof Deibert’s notion that if we are to protect the ideal of the Internet as the home of knowledge and discourse, we need to educate ourselves about the “technological ecosystem” surrounding us. This involves lobbying for a new social contract in order to protect our privacy. According to Nojeim and Kerr (2012: 75), access to third party records does pose a threat to personal privacy and creates challenges for the law. This hypertechnological era has made it easy for law enforcement agencies to collect data without our permission or knowledge, where it can be used against us in future legal proceedings (Nojeim and Kerr 2012: 75). Clarke (2015: 131) goes even further when he calls the recent data retention proposals in Australia “a comprehensive shambles”. He mirrors both Prof Deibert’s and Nojeim and Kerr’s views when he claims that similar policies around the world are fraught with technical and legal difficulties and concludes by advocating for a “set of Principles that can make good the current democratic deficit” (Clarke 2015: 132). Glenn Greenwald, one of the most vocal advocates of privacy in the surveillance age, also echoes this idea in his 2014 book No Place to Hide. In the epilogue, he argues for domestic legislative changes to protect privacy, as well as for Internet users to refuse the services of companies that provide data to the National Security Agency (NSA) (Greenwald 2014). These points support Prof Deibert’s warnings about sharing data with third parties and his statement that holding these companies accountable is a necessity.

    The above academic works view mass surveillance and data retention with varying degrees of caution and mistrust. In contrast, former NSA director Michael Hayden (2014: 22) likens the agency to a hard-done-by hero that must save his ungrateful townsfolk from danger. He quotes House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers as saying the NSA is “the only intelligence service on the planet that is under siege from its adversaries and from its internal support system, the citizens of the United States” (Hayden 2014: 23). Former head of US counterintelligence Michelle Van Cleave also depicts mass surveillance as a necessity (2013: 64). She describes the US as a “global intelligence apparatus” with “global responsibilities” that could not be fulfilled without the help of the NSA (2013: 64). Van Cleave concludes by stating that a complete “hands off” approach, as supported by some privacy activists, would only endanger citizens (2013: 64). Evidently, the ethics of mass surveillance is a contentious issue, with its supporters seeing it as a valuable tool in protecting a country’s citizens from harm. However, Prof Deibert’s argument is clearly situated on the side of privacy advocates such as Greenwald, who believe that drastic social change is necessary to safeguard the human rights of society.

    After this brief analysis of the academic literature, it can be concluded that there is little damaging counter-evidence against Prof Deibert’s main arguments. His viewpoints differ from certain pieces of literature in two aspects: his view that cyberterrorism is not currently an attractive option to terrorist organisations and his call for a new social contract to hold governments and private companies accountable. However, much of the academic literature does support the arguments he laid out in the Innerview.

    Overall, I found this spotlight informative and well put together. The only aspect I would improve would be that there are so many topics covered in one small interview. I believe it would be even more enlightening for viewers to have multiple interviews exploring some of the main topics Prof Deibert talked about in more depth. Personally, I would be interested in knowing more about the cyberterrorism debate, as well as any future legal implications of surrendering data to third party companies.

    Reference List:

    Clarke, Roger. 2015. ‘Data retention as mass surveillance: the need for an evaluative framework’. International Data Privacy Law 5(2): 121-132.

    Goodman, Seymour, Jessica Kirk and Megan Kirk. 2007. ‘Cyberspace as a medium for terrorists’. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 74(2): 193-210.

    Greenwald, Glenn. 2014. No Place to Hide. London: Penguin.

    Hayden, Michael. 2014. ‘Beyond Snowden: An NSA Reality Check’. World Affairs 176(5): 13-23.

    Heickerö, Roland. 2014. ‘Cyber Terrorism: Electronic Jihad’. Strategic Analysis 38(4): 554-565.

    Kenney, Michael. 2015. ‘Cyber-Terrorism in a Post-Stuxnet World’. Orbis 59(1): 111-128.

    Nojeim, Greg and Orin Kerr. 2012. ‘The Data Question: Third-Party Information’. In Patriots Debate: Contemporary Issues in National Security Law, 2nd ed. eds. H. Rishikof, S. Baker and B. Horowitz. Chicago: American Bar Association.

    Rid, Thomas. 2012. ‘Cyber War Will Not Take Place’. Journal of Strategic Studies 35(1): 5-32.

    The Vision Machine. 2015. Innerview: Ron Deibert. Accessed 30 August 2015. Available at http://thevisionmachine.com/2015/04/innerview-ron-deibert/.

    Van Cleave, Michelle. 2013. ‘What it takes: in defense of the NSA’. World Affairs 176(4): 57-64.

  • First of all, this was a great interview. It’s not as common as it ought to be to hear clear, concise explanations of some of the issues that we currently are, and are going to be, facing in our vast new Internet world. The Citizen Lab is a terrific innovation for ‘lifting the lid off the Internet’, and I was interested enough by your work to read the first few chapters (so far) of your book Black Code, which is as accessible as this interview.

    Two points in particular of this interview I found interesting: first, the idea that we are in the early days of the ‘most profound change in all of history, in terms of of how we communicate’. And second, the concept of making ordinary people “hackers”, in order for them to understand the dangers (and potential!) in store for the future of the Internet.

    Computer science is an incredibly large field of study, is highly technical, and can be seen as impenetrable to anyone but specialists. Expressions relating to basic cyber security concepts like “DDoS attack” “Trojan horses” and “worms” (all examples taken from the preface to Black Code) are foreign to most people. Such “incomprehensible” jargon, and your reference to Fukuyama and the danger of making sweeping statements about the period you live in, made me think of a quote from the 1991 film Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. The opening scene is set in a 27th century university, and the inventor of something called the “statiophonic oxygenetic amplifier graphiphonideliverberator” is summoned from the 23rd century to a lecture. The 27th century professor says of the invention, “Kind of hard to imagine the world without them, isn’t it?” To which everyone gives a knowing chuckle. Apart from representing the sense at the time that society was on the cusp of revolutionary technological changes that were incomprehensible to the layperson (evinced by the ridiculously long and complicated name of the device), it represents an attitude, like Fukuyama’s 1989 ‘End of History’ that the coming changes would be long lasting and profound.

    While I think it highly probable that the Internet will exist four centuries from now just like the invention in Bill and Ted, it is impossible to know what form it will take, and the effect that it will have had on society. While nobody argues that the end of the Cold War was not a highly significant event, we laugh at it being hailed as “the end of history”. Like Fukuyama and Bill and Ted, it’s impossible to stand outside the time we’re living in, and to fully comprehend the significance (or otherwise) of the events taking place around us. Will the revelation of mass data surveillance networks be looked back on as a key shifting point on how the Internet is used, slowly creating more conscious and knowledgeable computer users, or will it be forgotten, as Edward Snowden apparently has been by many Americans? For the former to be the case, we need to change the approach towards becoming more engaged in understanding how we use technology, cancelling out John Oliver’s astute statement encompassing the prevalent attitude regarding simple security measures: “it seems hard, even though I know it’s not”.

    By looking at the ruckus that has been caused through the Snowden revelations, the public’s ignorance of, and apathy toward, the information they are leaving on the Internet shows that it is not enough simply to know how to use a computer in order to understand the security dangers and implications of sharing our lives online. This is where I think your statement that we need to encourage ordinary people to be hackers, in the positive sense of the word, is really important. While I definitely agree with your point, I think suggestions such as telling people to read the terms and conditions of what they’re signing off on can seem completely futile. Where using the Internet and particular websites is essential to day-to-day life for most of us, it is easy to argue that there is no point in reading the terms and conditions, because we have no choice but to accept them, even if we hate what they entail. This can be extremely frustrating and disempowering, and I think that this is part of the reason while most people don’t bother reading terms and conditions. This feeling of impotence, as well as apathy, needs to be addressed in a major way if we do want to hold onto the security and privacy of what we put online. This is where education, from the school level, becomes central.

    Although some people take a personal interest or can be inspired by exposure to interviews or articles like this, society at large will never be reached by such methods. In the interests of preserving the integrity of the Internet from hostile actors, learning not only how to interact with computers, but how computers interact, must be as central to the school curriculum as maths and English. However, just as you mention in Black Code that the Internet ‘moves at the speed of electrons, while international law enforcement moves at the speed of bureaucratic institutions’ (p16), so too, it appears, does reform in our educational institutions. As a small anecdotal example, when I was at school, paid after-hours computing classes were offered, and my parents allowed me to go. There, they taught the crowning skill of the computer-savvy: touch-typing. While excited at the prospect of gaining such an enviable skill (which my ten-year-old self never mastered), I was rather disappointed at not actually being taught anything to do with how computers worked. Though I think the days of touch-typing tutorials are mostly passed, from speaking with teacher friends it seems that my experience is still largely representative of the quality of computing being taught in schools today. There need to be robust computing courses in schools taught by people who understand the devices they are using, so that the next generation is made up of users who not only know how to interact with the systems, but understand how the systems interact.

    However, just as it’s not enough to learn how to use computers, but also to learn how they function, so too is this knowledge incomplete without an understanding of the societal and political implications of the technology. I think the dilemma faced by groups such as the Citizen Lab in trying to encourage people to be hackers can be explained by looking at Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message”. Though you touch on this in the preface to Black Code, I don’t think you take the idea far enough. I think we need to look past just how our use of technology influences our behaviour, and look at how it shapes our theorising.

    It is to a great degree impossible to understand issues of computer security without technical knowledge of how the systems work, which is necessarily limited to a small number of people due to the complexity of the systems in question. This means that the average person cannot understand the very nature of the threat – not the philosophical impacts of, say, mass surveillance, but the actual, technical, function of how that information must be collected and stored, and the full combination and limits of uses that information can be put to – because this can only be understood by knowing the reach and limitations of said technology (Randall Munroe put this better than me). This will in turn affect theories of, and discourse on, issues of cyber security and societal/political implications, which will be largely incomplete. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that most people simply do not understand the extent to which governments or third parties can use their metadata. To compare this to more traditional ideas of security, it is not, for example, necessary to understand the intimate workings of a nuclear missile to be able to discuss the potential uses to which the weapon could be put, and the broader social and political implications of this. The same cannot be said of cyber security, because only experts, who know exactly what information is possessed, can guess at what the information may ultimately be used for, and even then this potential is affected by the imagination of the person/s in possession.

    Thus, the “medium” (the science behind the technologies we use) means that the average user only receives a very limited part of the “message”, i.e., the (understanding of the) manners in which their information can be used. In light of this, your statement that ‘the combination of people turning their digital lives inside out while the state is focussing in on all of society deserves a conversation on the order of a new social contract’ is clearly crucial. However, I think the word ‘conversation’ is too casual and does not convey the urgency of the matter. Individuals’ public and private information is already being used by third parties, perhaps not without their consent, but almost certainly without their knowledge. The imbalance in understandings of technology, compared to the extent to which we use it to share details of our lives, must be redressed in order to manage the threats that we as digital citizens are going to be exposed to in the exciting but dangerous expanding cyberspace universe.

  • POLS3512 Entry

    These past few weeks doing the POLS3512 course have been a very interesting experience for me. As I remember, what sparked my interest was when we were shown a snippet from an interview with Edward Snowden. To be honest, I did not know who this man was, and what he did, until that day in class, when we were learning about big data mining. In this spotlight interview with Professor Ron Deibert, he explained a lot about our new technology, communication, and data sharing. What this spotlight is trying to tell us is that change is happening every day, progressively, and very rapidly especially with the technology that we have now. And it is very striking how so much have changed in the span of only ten years. Professor Deibert talked about how, many of the information that we used to keep in tangible files or in our memories, we now keep in online storage services, like cloud. We even share information and details through social media, the same way we would write journal entries. The only difference is that our journal entries are for ours to read alone, unless we personally give consent to another, while in social media, everyone can view what we posted. And what we often fail to realise is that even when we set up the settings on private, as long as it is online, the possibilities of that information getting on some other people’s hands, is very likely. It is quite concerning, if we think about it, but the problem is, we often don’t put much thought before putting anything online (Custers, van der Hof and Schermer 2014).

    Every day, we send out emails, chat with friends and family online, post events online while it is happening and where it is happening. It has become part of our daily lives, that we don’t put much thought about it. We don’t put much thought about third parties having access to those data, and that we are actually indirectly giving consent to this. Professor Deibert mentioned that everything has third parties involved now, and most of these third parties are private companies that may be well out of the state we are currently in. The cyberspace has a very complex nature. What we see on the outside is that it keeps people connected and informed. It makes time and distance shorter because information travels fast through cyberspace. What we don’t usually look at is what is in the cyberspace, what and who keeps it functioning, and what and has access to it. It constitutes of machineries, service provider, exchange points and satellites, and people. The cyberspace, according to Professor Deibert, “is a vector through which power is exercised”. What this means is that, whoever has access to the infrastructure has the power to control what information goes in and out in to the world. Some of those gathered data are even used for strategic advantage. The United States, as Professor Deibert mentioned, is a good example, maybe even the best, for using that capability, especially with billions of dollars in budget. It is not necessarily a person or a group of persons controlling the flow of information. Fundamentally, commands are built in to block or allow access to content, and distribute it. What I found that is very concerning is that, the data being gathered is not selective. Anyone’s information can be readily accessed by those who have the authority, or those who know their way around. Basically, anyone or everyone could be under surveillance, whether we consent to it or not (Taekke 2011).

    We may not be able to confirm who are watching us – it could be the good guys; it could be the bad guys – or if we really are being watched at all in our part of the globe. But with the advancements in our technology to this day, can we confidently say that we are not? Again, as Professor Deibert would say, we live in dangerous times. Professor Deibert is not the first person to openly say that governments and private companies may have access to even our most private details. Edward Snowden exposed in 2013 the truth about the US government’s surveillance. The surveillance did not only apply to the citizens of the United States, but also to several other states that they deemed were a threat to their nation’s security. Since the attacks in 9/11, the United States’ war on terror went up to their priority list, and used the hyper technology that they have to track down the terrorists, from their roots (Bakir 2010). The means was practical, given that they already had the resources and the personnel, and the intentions were clearly for the good of all, at that time. Until they started to harvest data about random people, even those who are innocent of any crime, without consent. Another point that Professor Deibert talked about in this interview is that, it is not so much about whether you have access to internet or not anymore, they can access your information with just the gadget you are using. Another issue is the terms and conditions that we need to agree to in order for us to access information or services that we need. We are asked this very often that we don’t even take the time to read those terms and conditions anymore, and we just tick the box, giving them consent to use whatever information we set on “public”. But these terms and conditions, privacy policies can vary from one application or social network, to another, nonetheless we tick those boxes and agree without reading. However, we are not fully to be blamed for exposing ourselves because, as I mentioned earlier, there are information and services that we can access only if we agree to their terms and conditions (Such and Rovatsos 2016).

    Lastly, the mention that the “primary threat to digital arms control is the government itself, and not the non-state actors”. In my opinion, this is the most concerning part of this whole digitalised time. The government often pose more threat than provide security for their people. We can only imagine what could possibly happen if those data that have been collected by the government would end up in wrong hands, the opposition or worst, the terrorist groups. This interview with Professor Deibert sheds light to matters we think are not bad enough to be concerned about. And even though technology have in fact made everyday living more comfortable for many of us, it came with a great price, the price of exposing of our identities to actors we don’t know, and breaching our privacy, and possibly endangering our safety (Martin and Rabina 2009).

    References:

    Bakir, Vian. 2010. ‘Sousveillance and Strategic Political Communication: Developments and Implications’. In Sousveillance, Media and Strategic Political Communication. Bloomsbury Publishing.

    Custers, Bart, Simone van der Hof and Bart Schermer. 2014. ‘Privacy Expectations of Social Media Users: The Role of Informed Consent in Privacy Policies’. Policy & Internet 6(3):268-295.

    Martin, Shannon, Debbie Rabina. 2009. ‘National security, individual privacy and public access to government-held information: the need for changing perspectives in a global environment’. Information & Communications Technology Law 18(1):13-18.

    Such, Jose M, Michael Rovatsos. 2016. ‘Privacy Policy Negotiation in Social Media’. ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems 11(1):1-29.

    Taekke, Jesper. 2011. ‘Digital Panopticism and Organisational Power’. Surveillance and Society 8(4):441-454.

    • Very good piece of journalism. This topic deserves greater scrutiny and it’s encouraging to see people working on it.

      Just a quick comment based on my own research: Counter-recruiters and other anti-militarism activists take credit for “shutting down” the AEC. However, the army considered this a pilot project and thus it was bound to be short-lived.

      That said, the fact that the army hasn’t yet followed through on its original plan of planting AEC-like facilities in other locales suggests that sustained protest (counter-recruiters holding pickets in the mall parking lot on a regular basis) sent a message that this kind of brazen military marketing to youth would not be tolerated.

      By the way, an anthropologist (Beatrice Jauregui) did some fieldwork at the AEC and presented her findings at the 2009 meeting of the AAA. It’s largely uncritical of the army viewpoint, but offers an excellent description what Mantello calls “the increasing synergy between the US military and the entertainment industries.”

    • The University of Queensland POLS3512 (Dr. Sebastian Kaempf) Critical Blog Assessment – Semester 2, 2015.
      Callum O’Connor-Cox s4292322

      For many, the symbiotic relationship between the government and media industry has evolved immensely since the propaganda systems seen in the First World War (Andersen 2014 :1). As the influence and accessibility of media outlets have changed so have governments involvement and influence in these channels. From influence in television, radio, film and print media in the early 20th Century, the 21st has seen expansion into more avenues of influence. The booming culture of video games has now been subject to manipulation from government bodies, for recruitment and influence. This inclusive facet of media has subsequently infiltrated the interaction between governments and video game culture.

      Peter Mantello’s article, “The Arm Experience Center” provides a brief insight into the military recruitment phenomenon used by the United States Army. Mantello’s article explores this unique facet of military recruitment as it displays a definite shift from the boring conscription offices throughout America, to a more interactive and enticing form of involvement. This piece will be analyzed and subsequently compared against current literature regarding the government’s use of such facilities but also the video game industry as a whole.

      Mantello’s piece opts for a very clean one sided view of this “Army Experience Center” at Franklin Mills Mall. The short three-minute clip portrays this center as an inherent good necessary in your local shopping mall. One child being interviewed frames this army facility as “helping keep kids off the street”. The article opens on teenagers in a jeep, wielding weapons and shooting at large screens projecting an extremely well made virtual reality game. The immersive facet of this center shows how exciting army life can be, by experiencing the sounds, thrills and camaraderie present in a real life military operation.

      Comparing it to an Apple Store, a soldier, out of uniform in casual clothing takes the viewer through a series of features of the center. This interactive experience where children can access the Internet, engage with other like-minded kids, play video games and ask questions to staff about the army. Throughout this the soldier explicitly assures the viewer that there is no obligation to join the army and that personnel will only engage if they wish to know more things about the army. For instance an interactive touch screen terminal displays weaponry used in the games they are playing and their real life counterparts. Reports from personnel on army engagement, footage from army training, education options within the army, profiles on jobs and army personnel and the salary offered by joining the army. As such this interactive experience frames itself as inherent good but also a necessity for recruitment in this technological age.

      Unfortunately, Mantello’s limited portrayal of this Army Experience center is not very engaging. Throughout his piece no opposition or negative aspects of the centre are portrayed. In fact this piece seems to be a recruitment in believing the reasonability of the use of these centers. Upon further reading, this portrayal was overall not very engaging in the topic, choosing to take a positive stance on the center and its representation of war.

      For many scholars this manipulation of video-game culture is a symbiotic relationship (Der Derian 2001 : 167; Stahl 2010: 94). For Andersen and Mirrless the United States Department of Defense and video game companies seek to turn video game players into virtual soldiers (Andersen 2014 :4). In 2002 the release of America’s Army sought to bring immersive and engaging battle spaces and storylines, coupled with the heroics of modern day warfare into the homes of millions of video game players (Andersen 2014 :4). Unfortunately, Andersen and Mirrless describe this as “influential content in order to shape perceptions, influence opinions and control behavior” (Andersen 2014 : 4).

      This widespread video game sought to alter peoples understanding of the war efforts overseas. By actively engaging with scenarios taken straight from real life with realistically represented weapons, terrain and locations, this was the first time a video game had been used as a manipulative propaganda machine (Andersen 2014 :4). In Mantello’s article it does not say whether the game played within the Army Experience center was America’s Army, upon further investigation, the majority of these recruitment facilities featured the game, along with an array of similar games.

      Stahl notes that America’s Army was not only being used by recruitment centers but by army personnel for simulations and leadership training (Stahl 2010 : 93-94). The repetitive decision making that featured in video games, was a necessity in military education and a key indicator for high positions (Stahl 2006: 117). This integration of hyper realistic video games not only for recruitment but also education was deemed a positive in the portrayal of the center (Der Derian 2001 :164; Stahl 2006:123). Subsequently, in 2005 forty percent of enlisters stated they had played America’s Army at some point (Der Derian 2001 :164; Stahl 2006:123). However, Stahl notes that there was a disconnect between what the game was portraying and the realities that were being promoted in the broader media coverage (Stahl 2006: 124).

      Although Mantello’s article focuses on the Army Experience Center alone, Mantello omits an important discussion on the manipulation of video game culture as a whole. Viewing the Army Experience Center as separate from the video games seen in mainstream culture, this assumption that he portrays is fundamentally flawed. Andersen and Mirrless discuss the fact that since the late 1970’s video game interaction has been influenced by forms of government and its depiction of war (Andersen 2014:11). As such this immersive first and third person battle spaces that video games provide, glorify the brutal spectacle of war as a recruitment and training machine (Andersen 2014:12).

      Andersen builds on this that Medal of Honour explicitly supports notions of a greater influence of militainment and Department of Defenses influence on the medium (Andersen 2014:11). Its promotional goals through digital capitalism profit through a symbiotic relationship between the Department of Defense and video game company, Electronic Arts (Andersen 2014: 11-12 ; Der Derian 2001:167). Electronic Arts portray current events and places to ultimately persuade and alter the perceptions of current operations that the DOD is acting in. They also allow EA realistic and current portrayals that increase interest and sales.

      Ben Clarke discusses video game usage on a wider scale. Clarkes argument revolves around whether or not video games are a positive influence on society and the military personnel who interact with them (Clarke 2012 : 713 -717). Supporting Andersen and Der Derian, Clarke agrees that this interactive form of media is helping military recruitment and training, by transforming the technologies and representations of war (Clarke 2012: 713). However, the argument centers around the humanitarian laws that are missing in video games (Clarke 2012: 725). This refers to indiscriminate shooting of civilians, senseless violence and catastrophic destruction of cities all in the name of entertainment. These breaches within video games are not met with the same punishment that would face a true combatant (Clarke 2012 : 722-725). The desensitization that occurs in video games and sense of a lawless war is far from a true representation (Clarke 2012 :729). The video games used in Mantello’s army experience center feature this kind of indiscriminate, lawless combat situations. This view of justifying the results not the methods is another omission in Mantello’s discussion on this topic (Clarke 2012: 721).

      While Mantello offers a very positive insight into the synergic relationship between the army experience center, video games and the military in his piece, unfortunately this one sided voice is very bland. The discussions provided by other authors offer viewpoints that are ignored from Mantello’s piece. If these viewpoints, that paint a differing opinion on the relationship between the military and the video game industry were included, the piece would have conveyed a more in depth opinion. As such the result is a piece lacking in complexity that the topic ultimately needs and upon investigation the argument was not as convincing as once perceived to be.

      Reference List

      Andersen, Robin and Tanner Mirrlees 2014: ‘Introduction: Media, Technology, and the Culture of Militarism: Watching, Playing and Resisting the War Society’ Democratic Comminique 26 No.2

      Mantello, Peter; 2015. The Army Experience Center. The Vision Machine http://thevisionmachine.com/2015/04/the-army-experience-center/

      Derian, James Der. 2001: Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-industrial-media-entertainment Network. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2001. Print.

      Clarke, Ben, Christian Rouffaer and Francois Senechaud; 2012 ‘Beyond the Call of Duty: why shouldn’t video game players face the same dilemmas as real soldiers?’ 


      Stahl, Roger: 2010. Militainment, Inc.: War, Media, and Popular Culture. New York: Routledge,

      Stahl,
Roger; (2006) Have You Played the War on Terror?, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 23:2, 112-130, DOI: 10.1080/07393180600714489

    • POLS3512. The University of Queensland. Critical Blog Assessment – Semester 2 2015
      Alexandra Newton S4301255

      In the United States (US), the growing synergy between the military, the government and commercial industries was first outlined during President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous farewell remarks to the American people in 1961 (Rose 2012: 366). The 20th century saw a growth of the US as a superpower tied to war, facilitated by congressional investment in military agencies and private industries that were directly involved in the preparation and waging of wars (Anderson & Mirrlees 2014: 3; Rose 2012: 367). During this speech, he outlined the problematic ritualization of violence that he referred to as the military-industrial communications complex (MICC) (Anderson & Mirrlees 2014: 3). According to Eisenhower, this symbiosis held grave implications for the development of peaceful motives that would be overshadowed by the ‘unwarranted influence’ of the MICC (Mirrlees 2009: 165). Today, this symbiotic relationship has developed the exact unwarranted influence that Eisenhower forewarned in his speech. The rise of the MICC, driven by profit and the complex interrelationship between the military and the entertainment industries, has resulted in an infiltration of pro-military sentiment in everyday life that is exemplified in this spotlight.

      Peter Mantello’s micro-documentary focuses on the latest installment of the MICC, the Army Experience Centre (AEC), which specifically targets American adolescent teenagers who don’t have a broader understanding of the complexity of military operations. The AEC was opened in 2008 in Philadelphia’s Franklin Mills Mall and was a strategic marketing strategy of the US military in order to combat declining army recruitment levels. The AEC substituted urban recruitment offices for a single recruitment centre that combined popular first-person shooter games (FPS), military technology and appealing smart-phone technology. While the AEC denied the recruitment motives of this centre, it presented a highly sanitized and glamorous image of war in a location that could specifically target young teenagers (Zmuda, 2008). The AEC was shut down in 2012 following complaints from parents that it presented an unrealistic and idealised representation of war. However, the techniques employed in the AEC highlight a wider problem in the increased relationship between the US military and the entertainment industries: the weakening of the moral and psychological impediments to enacting collective violence (Rose 2012: 366).

      The development of the AEC should be placed in the context of how the Pentagon came to rely extensively on FPS games as a tool for recruitment. Roger Stahl (2006; 2010) states that the developments in media and information technology have resulted in the transformation of citizens who were purely receptive to media to the creation of interactive subjects. While television coverage of Desert Storm in 1991 was primarily a spectacle for viewers at home, Operation Iraqi Freedom employed embedded journalism that effectively placed viewers within the fighting ranks themselves and created a sense of subjectivity among citizens (Stahl 2006:125). The growth of video-game technology provided the Pentagon with an alternative outlet that could further extend the notion of viewer subjectivity in war by allowing citizens to directly ‘play’ the war on terror (Power 2007: 275). America’s Army (the FPS game used in the AEC) was developed as a military strategy in 2002 as a more cost-effective method of recruitment (Power 2007: 275; Singer 2010: 92). According to Stahl (2006: 123), as the military spends around an average of $15,000 on ‘wooing’ each recruit, the development of America’s Army was a financially effective way of boosting falling recruitment numbers. Its effectiveness as a recruitment tool has been undeniable, with nearly 73,000 new soldiers out of the 8 million registered members by 2006 (Susca 2012: 40).

      Mantello’s argument regarding recruitment strategies of the US military targeted at adolescents through FPS games and advanced technology is discussed in the works of Margot Susca (2012), James Der Derian (2009) and Stahl (2006; 2010). America’s Army and the AEC 13+ age restriction is representative of the Pentagon’s strategy to take advantage of the adolescent market (Zmuda, 2008). Susca (2012; 19) argues that the Pentagon targets teenagers as it is a period of development that is easily influenced and characterized by the desire for independence and thrill seeking behavior. America’s Army and the AEC fulfill adolescent thrill-seeking desires by engaging in simulated virtual combat that simultaneously allows them to exercise varying levels of independence and choice making (Susca 2012: 19). This is inherently problematic as during the ages of 13-16, adolescents begin to develop morals that will influence their actions throughout adulthood (Susca 2012: 20). According to Ben Clarke, Christian Rouffaer and Francois Senechaud (2012), video game scripts and scenarios dictate to players when violence is acceptable and unacceptable through point accumulation and reward systems. Therefore, by being able to ‘play’ the war at a young age, it can significantly shape an adolescents understanding of what constitutes morally acceptable violence during war (Clarke, Rouffaer & Senechaud 2012: 717). Der Derian (2009) builds on this analysis by explaining that the video-game war is a virtuous war, one that is clean and good through the virtue of being bloodless. By transporting adolescents into a conflict zone without revealing any of the destructive realities of war, America’s Army presents a positive image of war that legitimizes American foreign policy and desensitizes the player to the psychological affects committing violence (Der Derian 2009: 155). Mantello’s spotlight builds on this literature by examining the AEC and how it has implemented the concept of a clean and interactive war. The thrill of holding fake machine guns and playing ‘real time’ overshadows the emotional truth and negative consequences of war (Susca 2012: 18). The inclusion of army profiles in the AEC is a further attempt at glamorizing war for adolescent males by idealising career roles in the army. For example, one video testimony is an army cadet that controls the gunner of a tank. The individual boasts he can ‘hit things from over 200 miles away’ while he ‘engages targets’. The use of abstract words, such as ‘engage targets’ and the focus on the high-tech side of technology, is what Stahl (2010) refers to as technofetishism, which essentially renders the destructive side of war invisible, contributing to a sanitized and bloodless portrayal of war. Furthermore, targeting this glamorized image of the army at adolescents, according to Susca (2012), appeals to adolescent thrill-seeking behavior and their search for power and independence.

      Implicit in Mantello’s spotlight, and the literature surrounding the discussion of the growth of FPS games, is the transformation of media that focuses on ‘why we fight’ to ‘how we fight’. However, this discussion is too simplistic and overlooks a secondary reason for why video games are the preferred recruitment choice for the US military. As war is the ultimate example of rationalised state violence, maintaining public consent is essential for its continuation (Power 2007: 275). Mantello examines this link in another article, where he examines how the use of FPS conflates the authenticity of gameplay and the legitimacy of political reality in order to implicate the gamer as a witness to the reality of war (Mantello 2013: 18). Therefore, FPS bridges war’s legitimacy in a way television has never, by inviting the gamer into the conflict in order to re-witness the truth and participate in the ‘good war’ on terrorism (Mantello 2013: 18). This is a valid point and its inclusion would have provided a deeper analysis in Mantello’s spotlight. The language of gameplay conflates sociocultural identifies, for example, Terrorist/Muslim/Arab/bad guy, that simplifies political conflicts as good versus evil, in which America occupies the position of good (Mantello 2013: 16). Therefore, not only is the use of America’s Army and places like the AEC useful for communicating information to potential recruits, but also a tool for inculcating military values and generating popular support (Clarke, Rouffaer & Senechaud 2012: 717). By presenting the narrative of good against evil, video games provide an explanation for ‘why we fight’ (Clarke, Rouffaer & Senechaud 2012: 721). The framing of video games presents to American society a positive moral perspective of military intervention and legitimizes American foreign policy during war.

      The creation of the AEC marks a significant moment in the ever- evolving relationship between the military and the entertainment industries. While the US military has denied that the AEC was designed as a recruitment tool, it is evident that its direct marketing at adolescents through the use of popular first-person shooter games was a strategy designed to spark interest in the army amongst young people. Furthermore, by presenting an experience of war that focused on high power military technology and idealised military careers, the AEC presented an overly sanitized view of war that overlooked the negative reality of war. Although the AEC closed in 2012, it remains a monumental chapter in the narrative of the military-industrial-communications complex which seeks to weaken moral and psychological attitudes towards war in American consumer society.

      Reference List
      Anderson, Robin & Tanner Mirrlees. 2014. Media, Technology, and the Culture of Militarism: Watching, Playing and Resisting the War Society. Democratic Communiqué 26(2): 1-21
      Clarke, Ben, Christian Rouffaer and François Sénéchaud. 2012. ‘Beyond the Call of Duty: why shouldn’t video game players face the same dilemmas as real soldiers?’. International Review of the Red Cross 94(886): 711.
      Der Derian, James. 2009. Virtuous war: mapping the military-industrial-media-entertainment network, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.
      Mantello, Peter. 2013. ‘Legitimacy and the virtual battlefield: putting the first-person shooter on the witness stand’. Australian Journal of International Affairs 67(5): 638-658.
      Mirrlees, Tanner. 2009. ‘Digital militainment by design: producing and playing SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs: 1’. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics 5(3): 161.
      Power, Marcus. 2007. ‘Digitized Virtuosity: Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence’. Security Dialogue 38(2): 271-288.
      Rose, Phil. 2012. ‘Divinising Technology and Violence: Technopoly, the Warfare State, and the Revolution in Military Affairs’.Journal of Contemporary Religion 27(3): 365.
      Singer, Peter. 2010. ‘MEET THE SIMS … and Shoot Them’. Foreign Policy (178): 91-95.
      Stahl, Roger. 2006. ‘Have you played the war on terror?’. Critical Studies in Media Communication 23(2): 112-130.
      Stahl, Roger. 2010. Militainment, Inc: war, media, and popular culture. New York: Routledge.
      Susca, Margot. 2012. ‘Why we still fight: Adolescents, virtual war, and the government-gaming nexus’. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
      Zmuda, Natalie. 2008. ‘Are the Army’s new marketing tactics a little too kid-friendly?’. Advertising Age 79(33): 1.

    • The University of Queensland POLS 3512
      Critical Blog Assessment (Semester 2, 2015)
      Tessa Hourigan S4350344

      Mantello’s spotlight, ‘The Army Experience Center’ documents the installation of a new type of army recruitment center in an American shopping mall in 2008. More of a video arcade than traditional recruitment office, the Army Experience Center worked to merge the imagined and real worlds of the military experience into one in order to boost recruitment numbers. Just one example of the symbiotic relationship between the American army and the media and entertainment industries, the Army Experience Center exemplified the new ways that entertainment, information and propaganda are produced by the military for public consumption.

      The spotlight provides a largely positive, face-value assessment of the Army Experience Center. The images shown throughout the spotlight are highly sanitized, and provoke an understanding of the war experience through a virtual reality, distancing the viewer from the lived reality of warfare. Modeled on the design of the Apple store, the Army Experience Center is stated to attempt to project a soft sell environment where potential members are able to come in and ‘test out the product’ in order to determine whether they are interested or not. It features interactive video game play and the career profiles of past and current servicemen. Much of the game play is with ‘America’s Army’, a video game designed by the American Army for promotional purposes. The game is highly popular within the gaming community, and works to promote what is termed by Stahl as ‘lifestyle marketing’ (2006, p.124-125). The recruiters in the store are largely Army members recently returned from combat, and are presented as wholesome soldiers who are all highly enthusiastic about the army experience. They aim to fulfill a mentor role and are there to answer questions about conscription and the army experience if necessary. The spotlight aims to place emphasis on the ‘if necessary’, stating that visitors to the center can purely choose to engage in the game play instead if they wish. Visitors to the Army Experience Centre are also presented as largely enthusiastic about their in store experiences, with one boy featured expressing his happiness at the center helping to ‘keep the kids off the street’. The language utilized by the employees of the Army Experience Center throughout the spotlight is also entirely positive. They interestingly frame the Army Experience Centre as just that: an experience. This framing fails to consider the more serious aspects of the reality of army conscription, such as moving away from family and friends and risks of injury and death. The recruiters themselves also do not appear to have any visible injuries or mental health issues gained from their conflict experience. This serves to further the sanitized, positive images of war presented in the spotlight, and frames life in the army as a fun and engaging yet lucrative career.

      The spotlight’s message is largely convincing in promoting the Army Experience Center as a highly positive, informative, fun recruitment center. However, in conjunction with existing literature surrounding the Army Experience Center and the military entertainment industrial complex, this message is increasingly less convincing. While the framing of the Army Experience Center as a sanitized form of recruitment remains highly convincing, there is a significant disjuncture between the portrayed intentions of the American military in the clip, and discussion of their intentions within the literature. While the recruitment officers within the spotlight work hard to acknowledge the freedom of visitors to the centre, it is clear that the American Army highly values the use of video games as a recruitment tool. Spending $75 million on America’s Army in 2004 alone, the game comprises a significant portion of the military’s advertising and promotional strategies (Stahl, 2006, p.123)

      Mantello’s spotlight fails to provide a well-rounded analysis of the Army Experience Center. By including only positive representations and feedback throughout the spotlight, it is clear that Mantello’s representation is somewhat lacking. Upon further examination it is clear that the Army Experience Centre and the media entertainment complex that the Centre embodied a number of highly controversial debates surrounding the place of modern conscription and propaganda techniques, and the intersection between the two. The fact that Mantello does not mention this, albeit briefly in his written work underneath the video, signifies a serious gap in the message of the spotlight. It is also important to note that the military does not purely consider video games, as they are represented within the spotlight, a tool for garnering the interest of young men and women into coming into recruitment centers. Instead, as explored by Stahl in ‘Militainment’, first person shooter games form the basis of many new training programs in the military, air force and the navy (2010, p.93). These games are carefully crafted by military professionals in order to reach as many target audiences as possible, to reflect contemporary events in a realistic sense, to promote military ideals and yet also to provide highly sanitized, unrealistic images that prevent the loss of potential conscripts (Stahl, 2006, p.123-124).

      Mantello’s spotlight provides a number of significant insights into the military entertainment industrial complex, and the relationship that this complex shares with recruitment. It provides a clear example of how the introduction of new technologies and cultural norms has shaped the processes of recruitment in a contemporary setting, and how they are shaped to fit the interests of a specific target group. However, while Mantello’s spotlight is highly successful in the provision of these insights, it does fail to mention any of the counter-narratives that are used to criticize the intended use and design of the Army Experience Center. Thus, it can be argued that as it remains at its current face-value level of analysis, it is not altogether convincing.

      • Mantello, Peter; 2015. The Army Experience Center. The Vision Machine http://thevisionmachine.com/2015/04/the-army-experience-center/
      • Stahl, Roger: 2010. Militainment, Inc.: War, Media, and Popular Culture. New York: Routledge,
      • Stahl,
Roger; (2006) Have You Played the War on Terror?, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 23:2, 112-130, DOI: 10.1080/07393180600714489

    • POLS3512. The University of Queensland. Critical Blog Assessment – Semester 2 2015
      Alya Munirah Yusoff 44024934

      In 2009, The Army Experience Centre (AEC) providing its visitors the chance to experience a first-person shooter (FPS) computer games. The AEC was funded by the American Army in order to use a more contemporary ways of recruitment instead of the traditional military propaganda. AEC was complete with the new technologies where visitors are able to find information in a more visualize and interactive ways. The technologies used has made it possible for the visitor the pathways of becoming a part of the American Army comrade including virtual experience being in war. AEC was located in typical neighborhood mall just outside Philadelphia which has managed to attract mainly male teenagers. Furthermore, AEC popularity spike through as it provides no charge for anyone who interested in becoming an army or simply just to play the games. AEC ground also full with an experienced army which traded their army fatigue to the typical polo shirt, which will mentoring interested visitors signing up for the army. A year after its opening AEC was opposed by the local public opposition as it attempting to sanitize war in its visitors. Finally, in 2012 AEC was officially closed and mark as proof of the synergy between US military and entertainment industries. However it closing does not stop any army FPS games from rising popularity in its player (Sweet 2016). FPS games are still popular and keep on upgrading in order to visualize a more realistic condition. Thus, the argument of this paper is AEC is more than just an entertainment media by discussing its purpose, relation to real conflict and effect on the players.
      Firstly, the AEC claimed purpose, where it was not meant to be an army recruitment center instead just a normal entertainment arcade location, was indeed negative. In the video, it was stated that AEC ideas were drawn from an Apple Store concept. The visitors then will have a firsthand experience of the product in order to give guidance on visitors liking of the products. The AEC operators were also not responsible for explaining the product except if the visitor interested in more information. This created an environment where AEC was similar to any arcade locations. However, despite AEC claimed concept, where only interested visitors wish to join the army will be provided with army recruitment pathways information, still, the FPS games which are America’s Army that being used as the main product in AEC was meant to be a recruiting tool for the American military. Thus, without visitor’s consents, they were indirectly affected by the main purpose of America’s Army game. America’s Army was first introduced two weeks after Iraq Invasion declaration in a large scale press conferences complete with soldier presents and the games was indeed designed by the army for recruiting process (Stahl 2006). In order to keep civilians interest on the game, the game creator had kept on updating its software’s by adding new “operation”. There was also a definite evidence of that the games have put recruiters in contact with future recruits through a formal walk-ins program and public gaming events. While American soldiers were running military exercise in Iraqi Border, a number of the student have deployed in the virtual war game through America’s Army. This showed that initially claimed of AEC as an entertainment center was negative as the game used by AEC was directly a recruitment medium created by the American Army.
      Secondly, the relation between the games landscaped and real conflict has created a realm of false truth which gradually closing the legitimacy gap. The Ever since, the first Gulf War, the civilian has been terrorized with the idea of the war on terror. Right after 9/11 attack, most of the media has tried to find the link between the terrorist and the attack. Furthermore, most of the Medias tried to compile all the terrorist characteristic in one module. The concept on finding who the terrorist is inside a typical community has attracted many of the terrified civilians. Many of civilians begin to feel the importance of this concept in making sure their own security. However, the media during that time has subtly spreading new on typical terrorist profiles. The interest showed by the civilians in finding and combating terrorist group has transcended in most of the FPS games. The games were designed to have a hyper-realistic background in order create a third personality, “virtual citizen soldier”. The games managed to create false truth environment as most of the game were inspired by past or ongoing conflict especially the conflict in Middle Eastern states. In a way, the FPS has endorsed the concept war on terror as the player will feel the need to fight the terrorist group. Thus, now there is no legitimate boundary between the life of a soldier and civilians. Every single person is now capable to become a soldier despite being formally trained. Despite having a hyper-realistic background, the games were indeed lacking in a certain condition. In 1995 Baudrillard had presaged the idea of hyperreal do not have a direct referent to its real world reality (Mantello 2013). Most of the games character will be directly controlled the player, and they are able to shoot or crash anyone who appeared in front of them including humanitarian group. This is certainly different to what actually happen in a real war. According to the international law, invading a humanitarian group will be considered as a war crime. However, if this happens in the games, the player will not receive any merit and are still able to play the game. Thus, if the usage of FPS games is considered the best way to train and recruit a soldier, it means that most of the soldier that undergone this process are the soldier who lacks the sense of humanity. In the real war, most of the soldier will not only face enemy but also civilian from many stages of ages.
      Thirdly, inside the video, also one of the visitors said about how AEC is one of the platforms provided if the visitor wants to join the army. He also added that other than that, AEC provides internet access where they either just play the game or even can receive mentoring from any of the soldiers that mostly came straight from a conflict war zone. The visitor also stated that AEC helps to create a positive and ‘soft silence’ environment. Through FPS games the image of war has been sanitized. The advancement of the mediatization of war has view war as positive issues. The act of going and fighting in war will be considered heroic despite the dangerous effect of war in the conflict areas. The FPS game player will not have the same experience as the real soldier. According to Arthur Asa Berger, games might never claim to be a realistic interpretation of the reality however, it still influenced in generating desired fantasies in players mind (Stahl 2009). Another mind blowing effect is that the war is still happening while the FPS receive so much attention from the civilians. The landscape of war happened in both virtual and reality which may lead to a broader acceptance of war in civilians. If the FPS games and AEC are still being in the limelight at the same time the military-industry-complex horizon will also increase.
      In conclusion, AEC should not only be viewed as a mere arcade place as indirectly AEC has brought many effects especially in the expansion of militainment. Through the FPS games, a positive side of war has been shown directly to the visitor which finally sanitized war image. Next, it also creates a false truth environment that closing the legitimacy gap between real war and virtual war. Finally, AEC was also used subtly as recruiting tools for the United States Army.

      References
      Mantello, Peter. 2013. “Legitimacy And The Virtual Battlefield: Putting The First-Person Shooter On The Witness Stand”. Australian Journal Of International Affairs 67 (5): 2. doi:10.1080/10357718.2013.817523.
      Stahl, Roger. 2006. “Have You Played The War On Terror?”. Critical Studies In Media Communication23 (2): 122. doi:10.1080/07393180600714489.
      Stahl, Roger. 2009. Militainment, Inc. New York: Routledge.
      Sweet, Debra. 2016. “Shutting Down The Army Experience Center: An Effective And Important Protest – World Can’t Wait”. Worldcantwait.Net. http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php/organizers-mainmenu-223/from-the-director-mainmenu-293/5853-shutting-down-the-army-experience-center-an-effective-and-important-protest.

    • POLS 3512, The University of Queensland
      Critical Blog Assesment- Semester 2, 2016
      Tavleen Tarrant, 43381993
      Army recruitment methods have evolved throughout the years from the wartime posters of World War II, to the digital era of virtual reality and video games to entice new recruits to the US Army. This form of recruitment has been controversial with debate surrounding the ethics and realism of virtual reality games and whether this trivializes war. This is a result of the military-industrial complex (MIC), its recent transformation and rise of the military industrial media entertainment network/ military entertainment complex. The military-industrial complex refers to the informal alliance between the nations’ military and defense industry (Merriam-Webster). Long gone are the days when Eisenhower (1961) warned citizens about the dangerous influence of the MIC in American politics as the MIC has grown and expanded to include the military industrial media entertainment network/ military entertainment complex (MIME-net), which describes the military using media to harness militarism and increase recruitment
      As the US defense budget increases, the MIME-net grows- with production of Hollywood movies such as Top Gun, supported by the Pentagon to create a favorable view of the army and increase recruitment, to the introduction of army themed virtual reality and video games. Peter Mantello’s micro-documentary and accompanying brief explores the new era of army recruitment in the digital age- through virtual reality games. Specifically regarding the now defunct Army Experience Center (AEC) in Franklin mills Mall, Philadelphia. The Army experience center was a virtual reality installation by the US army that was met with much contestation, raising concerns over the use of virtual reality in encouraging a pro-war sentiment in the United States. This essay will critically review Mantello’s spotlight piece and examine the core message through engaging with relevant literature on the military industrial media entertainment network as well as provide counter evidence to the piece.
      Mantello’s written brief describes the center explaining that the rationale behind this center is that the military wanted to replace the old recruitment offices for exciting, virtual reality simulations to entice a younger generation. The center allows young people to engage in first person shooter games through a military setting whilst discovering career paths in the army through touch screen technology. The center also allows people to engage in ‘ humanitarian missions’ where Mantello states, “ whilst shooting their way through never ending waves of faceless, brown skinned adversaries.
      Accompanying the article is a 3-minute micro-documentary that starts off with adolescent men in a jeep shooting in a virtual reality environment. The video then shows a young man, explaining that the AEC is not ‘ just about the army’ but ‘ keeps kids off the street’. Throughout the video, the message that this place is not a “ traditional” place for recruitment, but rather, a positive place to have fun, is reiterated, although the whole purpose of the AEC is in fact to recruit people to the army. Then, the video discusses a touch screen “ career navigator” that works like an “ iPod touch” where future potential recruits can gloss over various military careers. The video displays an army personnel driving a tank promoting the career if “ you love being the biggest baddest thing out there”, in a grand display of technofetishism (Stahl 2009: 28).
      Mantello paints the picture of the center in a rather ‘sanitized’ fashion- brushing over the implications such a center can have, leaving out broader critical discussions about relationships between the expanding militarism of the United States and growing influences of the MIME-net. For example, there is little critical analysis when it comes to the use of first person shooter games as military recruitment in the center and the apparent, grandiose displays of technofetishism seen with the display of large tanks and army vehicles.
      The accompanying 3-minute micro-documentary too offers little critical depth and insight into greater discussions about the center and its relations to MIME-net. The documentary paints the center as an innovative place for young people to hang out and less so as an explicit recruitment center that uses the military industrial media entertainment network for its own advantage. Although Mantello gives a solid description of the centre, there is little deeper engagement about the potential implications such a recruiting centre can have and what this means for the military, American geopolitics and foreign intervention. One of the main things this article lacks is engagement with the literature regarding the blurred lines between reality and virtual reality depicted in the army experience center and army recruitment games such as ‘America’s Army’.
      While the article depicts the recruitment center positively, there is damaging counter evidence regarding using ‘militainment’ as a form of recruitment. Often times, virtual reality does not accurately depict the dire realities of war and there is a blurring between reality and virtual war. Games such as America’s army are used by centers such as the AEC to promote the army and encourage people to join. This is seen as America’s army has been ranked fourth in strategies to make the army look more favorable (Stahl 2009: 107). However, these games show a skewed reality to the gruesome nature of war. Games such as America’s army have been noted to be realistic in all aspects except death (Stahl 2009: 108). For example, when humans are shot, they crumple noiselessly to the ground. Victims neither “ flail nor cry” as bodies disappear like going up to heaven. The army has responded to critics of the game by saying that the aim of the game is to promote jobs within the army, not promote violence (Stahl 2009: 108). By including violence and gore, the recruitment method would be seriously undermined, following the spirit of “ clean war”, a manner of presenting war that maximizes viewers alienation from death and suffering in war to maximize the war’s capacity to be consumed (Stahl 2009: 25). This is exemplified through invisible body counts and not showing uncensored violence like the Vietnam war where the war effort was undermined, and games like America’s army (Stahl 2009: 26).
      The lack of consequences of real life war is also apparent in both the recruitment center and virtual reality recruitment methods itself. Video games offer players the opportunity to play “ realistic” war games without facing the consequences of real life. There is a notion of lawlessness- just randomly killing without International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) (Clarke, Rouffaer & Senechaud 2012: 712). Anything alive is an enemy and killing them is the only option (Clarke, Rouffaer & Senechaud 2012: 721). This feeling of impunity is further reinforced on the real battlefields (I.e. IHL states that one cannot maim another person via arms unless they pose a direct threat). Video games and virtual reality scenarios allow players to engage in gross human rights violations without any consequences. These simulations can send the message that war is just a game and a law-free zone where the ends justify the means with unlimited methods of warfare. Thus, showing that that virtual reality can lack the realities of war despite being touted as “ hyperrealist”. Mantello fails to discuss this in his brief nor does he discuss the blurred lines between reality and virtual reality.
      Mantello himself noted that Pentagon-Hollywood synergies could be thought of as “ hyperrealist” because they blur the lines between reality and representation and take it a step further by determining a reality of their own (Mantello 2013: 2). This hyper real reflects little of the real world, embracing false truths (Mantello 2013: 2). Therefore, based on the broader literature, engaging in such recruitment strategies may leave future army personnel in a shocking awakening to the harsh realities of war.
      In conclusion, while Mantello’s piece is informative and insightful in providing a neutral piece regarding the Army Experience Center, the lack of critical engagement makes this piece fall short. There is a lack of discussion in how video game and virtual reality culture can fail to show realistic depictions of the ‘unglamorous’ sides of war amidst the apparent technofetishism, but also a broader conversation about the influence governments play in these virtual reality games and the military soft power in these “ advergames’ for propaganda usage (Huntmann & Payne 2009: 55). This is used to push the “ support the troops rhetoric” as discussed by Stahl (2009: 29) and help the MIME-net and thus, a broader set of viewpoints is needed to facilitate the critical discussion this topic so desperately needs.

      References
      Clarke, Ben, Christian Rouffaer, and François Sénéchaud. 2012. “Beyond The Call Of Duty: Why Shouldn’t Video Game Players Face The Same Dilemmas As Real Soldiers?”. International Review Of The Red Cross 94 (886): 712-721. doi:10.1017/s1816383113000167.
      “Definition Of Military Industrial Complex”. 2016. Merriam-Webster.Com. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/military%20industrial%20complex.
      Eisenhower, Dwight. 1961. “President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address”. Speech. 38. NAID.
      Huntemann, Nina and Matthew Thomas Payne. 2010. Joystick Soldiers. New York: Routledge.
      Mantello, Peter. 2013. “Legitimacy And The Virtual Battlefield: Putting The First-Person Shooter On The Witness Stand”. Australian Journal Of International Affairs 67 (5): 2. doi:10.1080/10357718.2013.817523.
      Stahl, Roger. 2009. Militainment, Inc.. New York: Routledge.

  • Just had a fascinating exchange with one of the field producers for Profiles from the Front Line. Profiles was a 2002 reality show by Bertram van Munster (of COPS) and Jerry Bruckheimer. It’s long forgotten now, but it was the test prototype for the eventual embedded reporting system that characterized the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This field…[Read more]

  • Thanks, Billy. I haven’t played Advanced Warfare yet, but I’ve seen some screenshots of exoskeletons. Raytheon is working on one of these. Talk about embedding. Didn’t know about the bug drone. I wonder when the game will decide to weaponize it?

    • Very much looking forward to reading the full piece. Thanks for the preview!

      Some further evidence in support of your thesis: The newly released Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare features biomimetic warfare fairly heavily. A “drone swarm” happens early in the game, and at about midway the protagonist controls a small flying bug drone to eavesdrop on a conversation. The game is also shot through with a fetishization of exo-skeletal armor and super-human abilities.

      • Thanks, Billy. I haven’t played Advanced Warfare yet, but I’ve seen some screenshots of exoskeletons. Raytheon is working on one of these. Talk about embedding. Didn’t know about the bug drone. I wonder when the game will decide to weaponize it?

    • Beautiful, Seb; the aerial shots add so much in terms of mental perspective. The music is spot on too; another demonstration of you superb use of aesthetics. Thanks!

  • As an adjunct to this video, check out this map that depicts the stunning fact that Great Britain has invaded, at one time or another, 9/10 countries on the planet. Mongolia, not yet.

  • Just watched Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys for the first time last night. The spectre of biological terrorism is central to the plot. I would like to think that Gilliam is one of the more conscientious directors in Hollywood. I really like his work, especially Brazil, which is an incredible piece of art. But in Twelve Monkeys, did he have to p…[Read more]


  • Film and visuality have long been used as sources of text and political interpretation in the subject of International Relations (IR). Much more recent is the emergence of IR scholars as direct producers of films about topics of international politics. IR scholars from James Der Derian to Cindy Weber et al. have been at the forefront of this development. Using the theme of ‘Film in IR/Filming IR’, an ISA workshop held in San Francisco in 2013 (organized by Laura Shepherd and Rune Saugmann Andersen), and attended by TVM’s Roger Stahl and Seb Kaempf, tried to identify and address the intellectual opportunities and challenges of this development.
    What are the challenges that emerge out of using the production of film in the context of the modern university? How does one legitimately evaluate film as a piece of academic work? How does this relate ethically to the political economy of the modern public university? And how creative do or should scholars become with film? How should scholars engage with students over the interpretation of film?
    In this Innerview, Roger Stahl and Seb Kaempf talk to another attendee of this workshop, Professor Michael C. Williams (University of Ottawa), who – as a self-declared ‘sympathetic skeptic’ of this development – reflects upon the possibilities and intellectual challenges surrounding film in IR/filming IR. This video is intended as a platform to kick off further discussion of these themes within the wider academic and non-academic community. We would like to encourage you to express your views in the comments section below.
    Filmed, produced and edited by Roger Stahl and Seb Kaempf. Interview held in San Francisco on 5 April 2013.

  • In an age of instantaneous, 24/7, and live news coverage, in an age of SoJos (solo journalists, who travel with their own cameras, satellite phones, and blogs), how can news reporting from the battlefield still be controlled? With the rise of digital new media in 2002, this particular challenge has confronted many militaries. Our micro documentary offers a rare glimpse into the world of war reporting in today’s transformed media landscape.

    Kevin Sites is an American author and freelance journalist, spending nearly a decade covering global wars and disasters for ABC, CNN, NBC, and Yahoo! News. He is considered the ‘granddaddy’ of solo (or backpack) journalism, helping blaze the trail for intrepid reporters who work alone, carrying only a backpack of portable digital technology to shoot, write, edit, and transmit multimedia reports from the world’s most dangerous places. His first book,<sup> </sup><i>In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars</i> (Harper Perennial-October 2007), shares his effort to put a human face on global conflict by reporting from every major war zone in one year. He is now a professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong teaching bachelor and masters programmes.

    In 2004, Kevin Sites embedded with US Marines as a freelance war reporter for NBC in Iraq. During the siege of Fallujah, the biggest battle fought by the US military since Vietnam, he shot footage of a gruesome incident in which a US Marine shot and killed a wounded Iraqi captive lying on the floor of a Mosque. This film, drawing on the original footage (courtesy of Kevin Sites), retells the incident of the Mosque shooting and its aftermath, of what happened to the video footage, and how it was or was not reported in the media across the globe. The episode raises questions over the politics of war reporting, modern day (self-) censorship, the ethical responsibilities of those covering conflicts on the ground, and the importance of visual footage in our news streams.

    This micro documentary was filmed and produced by Peter Mantello and Sebastian Kaempf, who tracked down Kevin Sites in Boston in 2010.  Edited by Ali Rae and Ben Walker.

    • Critical Blog – Isobel Whittle

      Word count: 1430 words

      TheVisionMachine’s Kevin Sites: Shooting Death is a micro-documentary accompanied by a textual synopsis contextualizing the film within a discussion of the control of news reporting within a transformed media landscape. The micro-documentary consists of an interview with American author and journalist Kevin Sites, featuring clips of video footage from the Iraqi battlefield. Sites’ recounting of his experience as an embedded journalist in Fallujah gives insight to the mechanisms producing US media’s sanitized narrative of warfare. The micro-documentary’s central claim posits that the US media coverage of war undermines democratic principles as it does not adequately impart to the US public an understanding of the true nature of war and its human costs. The central claim is supported through discussions of: the power of imagery in its depiction of warfare, characteristics of the embedded journalism system that serve to produce a sanitized vision of conflict and the present media landscape’s consumer demands. This essay argues that Kevin Sites:Shooting Death presents convincing and valid claims from a relevant source , although occasionally the micro-documentary’s messages may have been strengthened with greater discussion on certain issues and reference to an alternative source.

      The micro-documentary persuasively discusses the power of images to effect public perception of conflict. Sites refers a censored version of his video footage of a marine shooting a wounded insurgent in Fallujah; broadcast by US media. He contends that the censored version misinformed the US public as to the implications of the marine’s actions and more broadly distorted the public’s understanding of the US’ conduct of war in Iraq. The micro-documentary strengthens Sites’ insights through providing viewing of the censored and uncensored footage. His claims regarding the necessity of imagery to convey adequate understandings of conflict are supported by the relevant literature. There is a general consensus among scholars that images have a power to effect emotional response that written sources do not, exemplified by Sontag’s assertion that “photographs can…teach us to feel across global distances, establish…a proximity to suffering” (Butler 2005:223). Further, Sites’ discussion of the censorship of the video and its failure to provide a accurate understanding of the shooting indirectly acknowledges to the misplaced perception as acknowledged in the literature that images give an objective account; exemplified by Butler’s assertion: “Photographs…offer us only fragmented or disassociated truths”(Butler 2005:223).

      A key point convincingly posed by Kevin Sites: Shooting Death is that the embedded journalism system, appears to promote transparency in warfare by giving an ‘uncensored view’ but has been designed to produce a sanitized depiction of conflicts. This claim was advanced through Sites’ retelling of his experience in Fallujah as journalist embedded with a military unit, producing footage according to the Pentagon’s rules. The micro-documentary’s briefly acknowledges, through Sites’ comments, that there is a focus on “exciting” firefights but a lack of coverage of broader issues such as the consequences of the attrition of war (VisionMachine 2014). This alludes to the consensus within relevant literature that the embedded journalism system frames warfare in a way that produces a ‘soda straw view’ (Katovsky and Carlson 2003:22). Such a view is characterised, according to Tumber and Palmer by “very rich but very narrow coverage” (Tumber and Palmer 2004:16). This claim was supported by clips of Sites’ video footage from Iraq. However this claim would have been strengthened had it been explicitly acknowledged, as done within the literature, that the purposes of this ‘zooming in’ was designed by the US government to politically disengage the US public from questions regarding the “objectives for which the war machine should be used” (Stahl 2010:43).

      The micro-documentary’s argument that the embedded journalism system facilitates journalists’ identification with the military and therefore provides motivation for journalists to self-censor would have been strengthened with reference to additional sources and considerations. Sites alleges that the embed system produced a bond between journalist and military that could serve to influence the coverage of the war produced; to the extent the press may become a “propaganda tool”, noting “at the very least, you [journalists] try to be fair” (VisionMachine 2014). This is supported by the consensus within the literature that the “reporter literally traded in the trench-coat for a standard issue uniform” and came naturally to “using the identifying language of ‘we’ when speaking of the military” (Stahl 2010:42). The extent of this bond is implicitly explored through three aspects of the micro-documentary. Firstly, Sites’ discussion of his fear of causing harm to the US military’s reputation when deciding whether to release the footage of the marine shooting a wounded insurgent – to the degree he was considering destroying the recording. Secondly, the revelation that Sites and NBC decided to screen a censored version of the footage in question. Thirdly, Sites’ failure to more explicitly acknowledge the implications of the marine’s shooting of a wounded insurgent – particular to violation of the rules of war, instead merely finding that the footage depicted the US military in a “not exactly flattering” light (VisionMachine 2014). However, the micro-documentary may have strengthened its claims here had it made reference to an additional (less inherently biased) source and more explicitly acknowledged the extent the influence the bond between military unit and journalist has upon war reporting.

      Kevin Sites: Shooting Death accurately implicates the demands of the new digital media landscape as facilitating the embedded journalism system’s production of sanitized and insubstantial reporting of conflict. Firstly, Sites asserts in the interview that the audience does not wish to be confronted with the realities of conflicts and their government’s actions in wartime; which provides motivation for media networks to not broadcast graphic images. This assertion, though corroborated within the literature (Zelizer 2008:20), would have been strengthened if there more explicit reference to the dominant scholarly understanding that there is societal expectation in times of national crisis the press supports government policy (Williams 2003:52, Carruthers 2011:31). This is merely alluded to vaguely in the micro-documentary; with Sites revealing every US news network used the censored version of his footage. Strengthening of this claim may have been achieved had the micro-documentary engaged with an alternative, more objective source. Secondly, Sites validly claims that in the new digital media landscape the audience demands instanteous and experiential news coverage. He implies this demand is conducive the anecdotal and ‘soda straw’ footage produced by the embedded journalism system that the government promotes as unfiltered. This claim is consistent with a dominant belief in relevant literature (Katovsky and Carlson 2003:68), as exemplified by Hoskins understanding that demands for “experiential news” allows reporters to relate little of substance of their audience (Stahl 2010:45). Thirdly, while discussing his decision as to whether it was the correct choice to share the censored version of the footage he captured in Fallujah, Sites acknowledged a commonly shared scholarly understanding that the press avoids showing “gratuitous violence” (VisionMachine 2014), exemplified by Taylor’s claim “the press errs on the side of caution in depicting death and destruction”(Campbell 2004:54).

      Through providing insight into mechanisms producing a sanitized depiction of war in the media, the micro-documentary effectively strengthens its central argument that this particular media coverage of war fails to adequately inform the US public; therefore undermining democratic principles. The micro-documentary problematizes the production of sanitized images of conflict through Sites’ assertion he had failed the US public by not revealing the realities of the Iraq war by condoning NBC’s release of censored version of his video footage from Fallujah. Sites’ understanding that such censorship undermines democratic principles is supported within the literature, exemplified by Eldman’s assertion that “[the function of the media in wartime] is not to inform a democratic citizenry and enable them to form educated opinions about events, but rather mobilize the public in support of…government policies” (Williams 2003:61). The detriment resulting from a censored depiction of warfare is inferred from Sites’ question that “even if you protect your people, what is it worth if you are not protecting your principles?” (VisionMachine 2014), and validated by support from current literature (Anden-Papadopouslos 2009:924). For example, Stahl alleges consequent of the media’s production of a ‘clean’ war in the 1991 Gulf conflict “the sacrificial lamb was the American public. Along with diversity of perspectives so disappeared the oxygen of democracy” (Stahl 2010:78).

      Kevin Sites: Shooting Death offers unique and persuasive insights in regard to the control of news reporting of war in a transformed media landscape. During his interview Sites makes a number of valid claims corroborated by relevant scholarly works. However, due to Sites’ position as an embedded journalist and the focus of the micro-documentary, claims may have been strengthened had there been reference to an alternative source and further discussion of certain points.

      Reference List

      Anden-Papadopoulos, Kari. 2009. ‘Body horror on the internet: US soldiers recording the war in Iraq and Afghanistan’. Media Culture Society 31(6):921-938.

      Butler, Judith. 2005. ‘Photography, War, Outrage’. PMLA 120(3):822-827.

      Campbell, David. 2004. ‘Horrific Blindness: Images of Death in Contemporary Media’. Journal for Cultural Research 8(1):55-79.

      Carruthers, Susan. 2011. The Media At War, 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

      Griffin, Michael. 2004. ‘Picturing America’s “War on Terrorism” in Afghanistan and Iraq: Photographic motifs as news frames’. Journalism 5(4): 381-402.

      Katovsky, Bill and Carlson, Timothy. 2003, Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq. Conneticut: The Lyons Press.

      Stahl, Roger. 2010. Militainment, Inc: war, media and popular culture. New York: Routledge.

      The Vision Machine. 2014. Shooting Death: Kevin Sites and the Seige of Fallujah. Accessed 23rd September 2015. Available at: http://thevisionmachine.com/2014/01/shooting-death-kevin-sites-fallujah/.

      Tumber, Howard and Palmer, Jerry. 2004. Media at War:The Iraq Crisis. London: SAGE Publications.

      Williams, Paul. 2003. ‘The new media environment, internet chatrooms and public discourse after 9/11’. In War and the media: reporting conflict 24/7, ed. D. Thussu and D. Freedman. New York: Routledge.

    • The Vision Machine presents Shooting Death: Kevin Sites and the Siege of Fallujah, an insight into embedded journalism and the impact and usage of imagery and censorship within a democracy throughout war according to Kevin Sites. Kevin Sites’ main critical claim throughout the mini-documentary regarding his time as an embedded journalist within Fallujah, is that journalists are faced with the dichotomous challenge of seeking and reporting the truth in order to avoid misinforming the public of the actions carried out by their own military personnel. However there is also the expectation that the journalist will minimise harm and the risk of detrimental impacts to both the nation and the military by maintaining the sanitised communication of America’s role in Iraq, thus “we see the two sides operating in mutually beneficial or even collusive ways” (Steel, 2011, p. 51). This essay will prove that Kevin Sites approach to embedded journalism as a problematic notion of equilibrium between the democratic right to view the explicit actions of their own military within the warzone – questionable or not – and the potential consequences is extremely challenging due to censorship and ignorance. However even though Kevin Sites suggest that unjust actions must be made aware of to the American public, he lacks substantial evidence and does not does not take into account other influential factors. It will also become clear that “what Americans saw from Fallujah was determined by their news source” (Perlmutter & Major, 2004, p. 72), even though Sites suggests this, the pre-existing literature surrounding embedded journalism adds further dimensions to his claims. Kevin Sites communicates by the event in a mosque in Fallujah that “embedding was designed to improve press/military relations be allowing reporters to tell the soldiers’ story” (Fahmy & Johnson, 2005, p. 301), yet it has become evident that embedded journalism is a multifaceted conception, providing insight into many perceptions of war.

      Kevin Sites’ perspective conveys a close message to that of the existing literature surrounding embedded journalism, censorship and the communicated imagery of war. In general, the process of embedded journalism is one, which Froneman and Swanepoel consider, the immersion of journalists into coalition forces and military units (Froneman & Swanepoel, 2004). However as Sites clearly outlines this is due to the expectation for the news media to provide a seductive image of war – a snapshot of action, a distraction from the collateral damage occurring in civilisations. As Sites illustrates, even though “independent, unbiased third parties” (Froneman & Swanepoel, 2004, p. 24) are employed “[to] tell us the true stories” (Froneman & Swanepoel, 2004, p. 24) the snapshots of marines in battle, continue to communicate a character of heroism and their actions are rarely questioned as the audience avoids all considerations that military personnel are not carrying out just war. In line with the pre-existing literature, Sites depicts embedding to consider various guidelines and in consideration of consequential reactions, politically and militarily, therefore “embedding may be…influenc[ing] news coverage” (Pfau, et al., 2005, p. 469). Sites expresses the public is rarely shown the consequences of the battles, the bloodshed in the country of occupation, only what are sold to be the heroic deeds of the army and therefore their actions are continuously justified as represented by Dodson: “the horrors of multiple civilian killings are elided, replaced with rationalisation and humanisation of the soldier’s action.. rather than posing deeper questions about… the degree of care taken by the invading forces or the wider implications of violence on civil society, normalise the extreme violence of military operations while nonetheless conveying the ‘‘reality’’ of the situation” (Dodson, 2010, p. 110). Kevin Sites reflects, the constant struggle to report the truth when the broader audience does not want to hear this. He questions this false reality and explains that the public is more attracted to the images of heroism and courage than the refugees, the pain and overall the destruction. This is supported by the literature, as only a “snapshot” of combat” (Pfau, et al., 2005, p. 473) is shown as many authors argue that “embedding meant only a slice of the war could be reported while the broader picture of the war was lost, and that the military version of the war was the only one feature” (Fahmy & Johnson, 2005, p. 301). Sites accurately represents war as a narrow field for those distanced from the warzone. His central message of the dichotomous challenge between truth and censored truth is corroborated in the literature.

      During Kevin Sites’ short interview, he mentions the common phenomenon of nationalistic bonding, which Fahmy and Johnson describe as “social penetration theory” (Fahmy & Johnson, 2005, p. 470). This occurs when “embedded journalists develop relationships with the troops they are covering and they “become fully integrated in to military command structures” (Fahmy & Johnson, 2005, p. 470). Sites eludes to the fact that different opinions are generally overruled by the sense of nationalism. Kevin Sites does not justly signify the importance of such an aspect as critiques have written that “journalists may grow “so close to the troops…that they cannot be impartial” (Fahmy & Johnson, 2005, p. 470) and therefore, the literature provides more in depth evidence than Sites. If considered further, there is the potential for reasoning the particular behaviour of the soldier in which carried out the shooting in the particular mosque as a conditioning of othering due to the nationalism within the military units and nationalistic and patriotic marine culture. As a result to this anticipated behaviour minority of embedded journalists reveal the unjust events practised by the American Army through their work. Kevin Sites remains one of very few whose experiences and viewings are communicated to the American public.

      Lastly, the dichotomous relationship that Kevin Sites outlines throughout the mini-documentary is illustrated through the overall impression of the effect of censorship on a democratic nation. Kevin Sites, reveals his intentions throughout the journalistic process to remain objective as the journalist is there to do a job for the democracy. His question to whether the security of the nation overrides the principles of the nation of democracy, is frequently by the literature. Dodson highlights that “professional war journalism becomes concerned with articulating uncritical and, at times, favourable accounts of military actions, which at once remain both professionally based on “hard facts” of military information and interviews but which do not lead to direct confrontation with the military” (Dodson, 2010, p. 103). Sites’ ideal of democratic and free press is similarly expressed within literature on the matter, as writers argue that “the role of journalists when covering wars is to operate purely as independent and impartial witnesses to events, which they report back as accurately as they can. It is not their job to promote peace or to act as a propaganda tool of their national government or… military” (Gunter, 2009, p. 45). It is rare to witness the news media provide full details or coverage of an event as seen in the Kevin Sites documentary, and this is further reinstated by (Dodson) as “the journalisation of the military is the process by which military strategic intent is normalised and humanised by up close, sympathetic…coverage of military operations” (Dodson, 2010, p. 100). This supports the neglect to democratic ideals as censorship restricts the general public from viewing actions committed by their own personnel. Sites explains that the Pentagon considers embedded journalism to present a positive narrative of war and combat. This is proven by Dodson as “the professional media’s own predilections for drama, visual spectacle and immediacy limited the potential for critical embedded perspectives” (Dodson, 2010, p. 105). According to Kevin Sites this restriction is not the way that democracy works.

      To conclude, after watching the interview documentary of Kevin Sites it is clear that “a lot of anecdotal evidence…remains unpublished” (Froneman & Swanepoel, 2004, p. 40). As even though embedded journalism has the potential to “provide first-hand reports in real time about the war, giving a clearer sense of the horrors” (Fahmy & Johnson, 2005, p. 302), Kevin Sites’ dichotomous impossible equilibrium remains alive – the desire to present the truth to the public, a democratic right, however restricted by the necessity to please the audience – in America. It has become evident that Sites does not provide a broad horizon of evidence, nevertheless through his illustration of the occurrences within Fallujah, the transparency that he urges for, in Perlmutter and Major’s words, would be “good for journalism” (Perlmutter & Major, 2004, p. 71) as “we [are]…owed photographic as well as print reporting of what took place” (Perlmutter & Major, 2004, p. 72).

      References

      Dodson, G., 2010. Australian Journalism and War. Journalism Studies, 11(1), pp. 99-114.

      Fahmy, S. & Johnson, T. J., 2005. “How We Performed”: Embedded Journalists Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Covering the Iraq War. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 82(2), pp. 301-318.

      Froneman, J. D. & Swanepoel, T., 2004. Embedded journalism – more than conflictreporting issue. Communicatio, 30(2), pp. 24-35.

      Gunter, B., 2009. The Public and Media Coverage of the War on Iraq. Globalizations, 6(1), pp. 41-60.

      Perlmutter, D. D. & Major, L. H., 2004. Images of Horror From Fallujah. Neiman Reports, 58(2), pp. 71-74.

      Pfau, M. et al., 2005. Embedded Reporting During the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq: How the Embedding of Journalists Affects Television New Reports. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 49(4), pp. 468-487.

      Steel, J., 2011. Journalism and the Democratic Imperative. In: Journalism and Free Speech. Florence: Routledge, pp. 42-58.

      The Vision Machine. 2014. Shooting Death: Kevin Sites and the Seige of Fallujah. Accessed 23rd September 2015. Available at: http://thevisionmachine.com/2014/01/shooting-death-kevin-sites-fallujah/.

    • POLS3512 Written Critical Blog

      TheVisionMachine’s spotlight – ‘Shooting Death: Kevin Sites and the Siege of Fallujah’

      TheVisionMachine’s spotlight ‘Shooting Death: Kevin Sites and the Siege of Fallujah’, examines the growing ethical conundrum war journalists face due to instantaneous news coverage. Kevin Sites, an embedded journalist with the United States (US) Marines in Iraq during the Siege of Fallujah, explains through this spotlight what he argues as the greatest challenge facing today’s journalists: the “geopolitical see-saw” (TheVisionMachine 2014). This ‘see-saw’ constitutes the central argument, suggesting that whilst journalists face a demand to retain their democratic values and promote free speech through reporting the reality of war, this demand is quickly conflicted when faced with reporting a truth which may have negative ramifications on their nation and it’s military. Employing a short interview with Sites alongside Sites’ Iraqi visual footage, this central claim is reinforced through discussions surrounding: ethical war reporting using embedded journalism, and the practice of censoring material. Following an analysis of these two key issues, as well as recommendations, this essay contends that TheVisionMachine’s spotlight presents legitimate arguments reinforced by existing literature. However, the addition of supporting perspectives would have validated the spotlight’s central claim.

      Ethical War Reporting and Embedded Journalism

      Throughout the micro-documentary, Sites makes explicit reference to the pressure war reporters face in upholding a specific code of ethics: seek and report the truth whilst minimising damage to the reputation of their homeland. However, as Sites’ experience uncovers, the balance between maintaining this ethical code is increasingly difficult due to instant media coverage and political pressures. As Ibrahim, Pawanteh, Peng Kee, Basri, Hassan and Mahmud (2011: 3) concur, journalists are pressured to impart information responsibly to the audience whilst abiding by such ethical values, with the public entrusting reporters to be honest observers and interpreters. Although as Sites’ story demonstrates, the pressure of reporting the truth whilst remaining patriotic was severely challenged when he found himself filming a US Marine unlawfully shooting a wounded Iraqi insurgent. Froneman and Swanpoel (2004: 33) corroborate Sites’ argument, noting that political pressures easily impede on journalist’s abilities to sustain a neutral approach to reporting, which is vital for ensuring unbiased reports and enabling citizens to make informed decisions about foreign interventions. However, the spotlight furthers discussion surrounding the issue of maintaining ethical conduct when faced with the challenges of the embedded journalism process, arguing the nature of embedding as preventing truthful war coverage and perpetuating a sanitised, seductive image of war and military involvement (TheVisionMachine 2014). Banham (2013: 606) elaborates that whilst the US government and military initially saw journalism as a hindrance, often swaying public support of international interventions (as was displayed in Vietnam), the method of embedded journalism, in which journalists live amongst soldiers, has resulted in the US military recognising the importance of involving the media for advancing military objectives. Sites particularly contends embedded journalism as a “propaganda tool” (TheVisionMachine 2014), proclaiming that during his embedding with the US Marines in Fallujah, he became indebted to the soldiers and relations of mateship and comradery were forged, making the release of his controversial footage more challenging. Froneman and Swanpoel (2004: 24) reinforce Sites’ dilemma, arguing that because embedded journalists rely on the soldiers for survival in violent situations, embedded journalists are often faced with the problem of conflicting interests – whether to provide the raw footage whilst appearing unpatriotic and disrespectful towards the soldiers, or censor the footage to avoid negative repercussions at the expense of democracy. Consequently, recognising the ethical difficulties faced by reporters, the US government and military have worked to get journalists on their side (Hoskins and O’Loughlin 2010: 38), a factor which Griffin (2010: 7) depicts has resulted in visual coverage of US military interventions appearing overly nationalist and glamorised, with footage of death and overt violence being avoided. Sites reinforces this, arguing that embedded war journalists are instructed to film shoot-outs and gun fire, however avoid reporting on long-term issues likely to instigate public concern, including refugee camps; a reality to war. Consequently, the spotlight reinforces existing literature regarding the severity of the ethical dilemmas faced by war reporters, particularly those involved in the embedding process, of the need to balance democratic duties whilst maintaining respect for one’s nation and military. However, the issue of censoring material further perpetuates the challenge for journalists to balance this ethical code of conduct.

      Censoring Material

      The spotlight makes explicit claims regarding the role censoring footage plays on perpetuating the ethical divide contemporary war reporters confront. Sites’ explains how he worked with the NBC to (self) censor his footage of the Fallujah mosque shooting, in which war crimes were apparent. The micro-documentary details how journalists are often forced to censor material due to graphic content potentially distressing audiences. Palmer (2015: 231) reinforces this, arguing that whilst violent and bloody imagery is often omitted due to audience concerns, this simultaneously prevents journalists from reporting truthfully. Additionally, as Sites’ explains, viewers of war reporting are often seduced into the inherent violence and drama of conflict. Ibrahim et al. (2011: 4) concur, depicting that the method of footage censoring, whilst being employed to eradicate graphic imagery of blood-spilling and body bags, concurrently conceals important information from the public domain. Sites’ dilemma detailed in the spotlight is therefore reinforced by literature, in that because the interests of the American public is swayed towards the heroic, humanitarian side of war and seeing their nation acting lawfully abroad, journalists are occasionally forced to ruin the integrity of their reports. However, Sontag (2003: 7) disputes that ethical reporters must ensure that their reports provide a lens into the truth of war. Only through providing a myriad of shocking war footages can such mediums work to accuse perpetrators and alter unethical conduct (Sontag 2003: 72). Sites’ justifies his actions with regards to the Siege of Fallujah, arguing that due to his participation in a network ‘pool’, in which reporters share footage from the war zone with international news networks, he presented networks with both the raw and censored footage, allowing them to decide what to show to their local audience. Nonetheless, commercial considerations with selling a story, alongside viewer discretion, are often prioritised over providing a truthful report (Froneman and Swanpoel 2004: 24). Consequently, Griffin (2010: 31) reinforces that censoring is a disservice to the public, as was conveyed by Sites’ spotlight. Sites confirms that whilst his job was to report the reality of war, by not providing the American public with the full video and context, Sites failed to fulfil his democratic duty, resulting in significant public confusion and concern. Sites discussion regarding censoring material demonstrates the ethical conundrum war reporters face, an issue which is further strengthened by existing literature. However, to further validate the spotlight’s argument, several recommendations should be considered.

      Recommendations

      Sites’ main argument is reinforced by discussions of sub-themes, which are in turn verified through contemporary literature. However, as Buchanan (2011: 102) argues, embedded journalists are often utilised for propaganda purposes, therefore making it important to look to contrasting perspectives for further explanations. The employment of the soldier’s perspective who was depicted as shooting the insurgent in Sites’ footage, would work to clarify the soldier’s motives as well as any pressures faced by soldiers to fulfil a patriotic role. As reinforced by Sontag (2003: 8), ethical journalism must portray a variety of perspectives, to prevent silences in opinion and allow informed audience decisions. Subsequently, the spotlight’s claim would have benefited from the additional perspectives of other war reporters, who have potentially faced a similar dilemma to Sites. This inclusion would confirm the issues experienced by Sites whilst also emphasising the significance of this issue in the journalism discipline. Finally, an examination of the opinions of the public, both in America and overseas, regarding their thoughts on Sites’ footage would have reinforced the validity of Sites’ spotlight. Lazaroiu (2011: 164) concurs the importance of presenting various opinions in highly-emotive situations such as war, and the addition of voices from the public would serve to explain the public’s reaction to Sites’ footage, rather than Sites’ sole explanation.

      Conclusion

      ‘Shooting Death: Kevin Sites and the Siege of Fallujah’ effectively illustrates the dilemma faced by contemporary war reporters; to advocate democratic values through providing audiences with the realities of war, or rather to ensure a positive representation of the nation and its military cohort. This essay has uncovered that due to the spotlight focusing solely on Sites’ experiences as an embedded journalist, the introduction of alternative perspectives would have strengthened the central argument. Nonetheless, Sites makes valid claims regarding this ethical conundrum, as is further validated by existing literature, therefore raising awareness of the challenges and politics of war reporting.

      Word Count: 1,428

      Reference List:

      Banham, Cynthia. 2013. ‘Legitimising war in a changing media landscape’. Australian Journal of International Affairs 67(5): 605-620.

      Buchanan, Paul. 2011. ‘Facilitated news as controlled information flows: The origins, rationale and dilemmas of ‘embedded’ journalism’. Pacific Journalism Review 17(1): 102-118.

      Froneman, J. D. and Thalyta Swanpoel. 2004. ‘Embedded journalism – more than a conflictreporting issue’. Communicatio 30(2): 24-35.

      Griffin, Michael. 2010. ‘Media images of war’. Media, War & Conflict 3(1): 7-41.

      Hoskins, Andrew and Ben O’Loughlin. 2010. War and media: the emergence of diffused war. Cambridge: Polity Press.

      Ibrahim, Faridah, Latiffah Pawanteh, Chang Peng Kee, Fuziah Kartini Hassan Basri, Badrul Redzuan Abu Hassan and Wan Amizah Wan Mahmud. 2011. ‘Journalists and News Sources: Implications of Professionalism in War Reporting’. The Innovation Journal 16(3): 1-13.

      Lazaroiu, George. 2011. ‘The Language of Journalism Ethics’. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 2011(10): 162-168.

      Palmer, Lindsay. 2015. ‘Outsourcing Authority in the Digital Age: Television News Networks and Freelance War Correspondents’. Critical Studies in Media Communication 32(4): 225-239.

      Sontag, Susan. 2003. Regarding the pain of others. London: Penguin Press.

      TheVisionMachine. 2014. Shooting Death: Kevin Sites and the Siege of Fallujah, January 17, 2014. Accessed 3rd August 2016. Available at: http://thevisionmachine.com/2014/01/shooting-death-kevin-sites-fallujah/.

    • The Vision Machine features a blog post and micro documentary by Sebastian Kaempf and Peter Mantello on Kevin Sites the granddaddy of solo journalism and his experience as an embedded war reporter for NBC in Iraq. Sites was primarily involved in the footage of a shooting death in a Mosque of an Afghani man by a U.S marine in the siege of Fallujah. The footage that was captured of this incident put Sites in a compromising position in regards to his ethics as a journalist and accountability to the American people. Embedded journalism plays an important part in the war machine; it holds militaries responsible for their actions while also keeping those far from the conflict aware of the happenings. The media is addicted to constantly providing information in order to fuel the instantaneous news realm present in today’s society. This essay will explore the challenges faced by war reporters based on Sites experience in the field. Journalists are faced with the task of being the fourth estate and serving the public interest while also considering how the content they produce could affect viewers in order to minimize harm. The issue of self-censorship will also be explored to understand its potential flaws.

      Journalists are often confronted with a crisis of consciousness in war reporting. They must decide whether to fulfill their prime directive to seek and report the truth or obey a code of ethics that directs them to minimize harm. Sites explained these two concepts are contradictory to each other and it is not possible to achieve both, as he believes they are mutually exclusive. Therefore journalists are faced with the difficult decision to either report what they see truthfully or protect those they report for. In wartime this decision is amplified with much greater consequences attached (Ibrahim et al. 2011: 3). Sites learnt this the hard way with his footage taken in Fallujah. The public entrusts that journalists remain unbiased and report what they see honestly (Cross 1999: 32). However this is a great challenge with news companies and governments often placing political pressure on reporters that influences their work (Froneman, Swanepoel 2004: 33). This affects what the public views and how they interpret war. A common occurrence sees journalists embedded within the military. This phenomenon invites journalists to live in with the military and follow their everyday activities. These reporters are said to better understand the military experience by being embedded with them in a foreign combat zone (Buchanan 2011: 103). Although journalists have the opportunity to better understand the life of a soldier and their daily struggles and successes, this can influence their reporting to becomes biased (Froneman, Swanepoel 2004: 24). Sites explains that journalists for their safety and welfare rely on soldiers and friendships are forged through the commonalities endured through war. As a result journalists can become sympathetic and this lens distorts their view of the war and how they report it. Buchanan explains there is pull and push factors in embedded journalism. The pull is the military trying to control the news flow while at the same time there is a push by corporate news media for ratings driven reality programming (2011: 104). It is also difficult to report the truth of war to an audience that doesn’t want to see it. Sites enlightens that audiences prefer the drama of combat over what is happening in a refugee camp. Journalist this way become induced by the inherit spectacle of divergence, constantly conflicted about where their loyalty lies. If the preconceived traditional idea of objectivity as a journalist cannot be achieved in today’s media realm, the concept all together cannot be abandoned at the risk of irresponsible and misleading journalism (Tuosto 2008: 22). It is important journalists still uphold their responsibilities assumed by their profession to keep the public informed truthfully especially in instances such as war.

      Another difficult decision journalists face is the use of censorship in their reports. Images or content may be seen as potentially damaging or sensitive where journalists decide to self-censor material. Often news companies also choose to sensor content in order to avoid criticism or repercussion for releasing potentially delicate material (Pew Research Center 2000: 1). However Sites learnt that criticism can also be received by doing the opposite by censoring when the audience requires the full story. He self censored his footage of the shooting death in Fallujah by a US marine on US news platforms by not showing the actual shooting of the insurgent. Sites went to report the truth of the war and did the opposite and created confusion with lack of imagery and vindicated the marine and military by not showing the full footage. He believed what he was doing was appropriate by minimizing the harm, however by doing this he didn’t give the US public an opportunity to see how the military was behaving. Therefore he was not reporting the truth and was betraying his profession and the American people in which he is held accountable to in his duties as a journalist. The media and the military often censor images of graphic nature because they believe audiences cannot handle it (Palmer 2015: 231). However this is the reality of war and by not showing these images, war is being sanitized. Audiences are not able to understand the full essence of what is happening without the full story and are being betrayed by the ones expected to uphold these ideals (Hamill 2004: 30). It is difficult to assess whether content should be censored before being viewed by an audience especially in war where there are many risks attached. Journalists are often faced with challenges of showing sensitive footage or imagery in war due to instances where it may be used as insurgent propaganda or endanger public support for the conflict (Palmer 2015: 230). What is seen in today’s society is what is known as a geo-political seesaw. This is where there is a challenge in society over what takes precedence; the security of the nation, or the principles on which the nation was founded. It is said one cannot exist without the other. However this is why it is important for journalists to maintain that they act as independent observers and report accurately no matter the ramifications.

      Throughout the micro documentary Sites effectively gives insight into the struggles of a war reporter. His argument could have been strengthened with alternate sources that support his claims with similar experiences. Views from the public, military and even government could have been incorporated to give the audience a greater understanding of the issues. Although Sites comments and ideas have been supported with literature used throughout this post, which reinforce the challenges faced by journalists worldwide. Reporters find it difficult to uphold both of their predetermined directives to seek and report the truth while also minimizing harm. While trying to uphold these ideals, self-censorship is raised as an issue by either trying to present the reality of war or protect the government and military from criticism. Journalists now face a multifaceted mediascape where they are confronted with multiple challenges in delivering news in an instantaneous and critical world. The demands required of a reporter in the settings of war are problematic and taxing. These individuals should not be underestimated, as they are tasked with the greatly important duty to keeping the public informed on the events in war.

      References:

      Buchanan, Paul. 2011. ‘Facilitated News as Controlled Information Flows: The Origins, Rationale and Dilemmas of Embedded Journalism’. Pacific Journalism Review 17(1): 102-118.

      Cross, Al. 1999. ‘Losing moral ground’. The Quill 87(3): 32.

      Froneman, J. D. & Swanepoel, T. 2004. ‘Embedded journalism – more than conflictreporting issue’. Communicatio 30(2): 24-35.

      Hamill, Pete. 2004. ‘The War Without Blood’. The Quill 92(7): 24-32.

      Ibrahim, Faridah, Latiffah Pawanteh, Chang Peng Kee, Fuziah Kartini Hassan Basri, Badrul Redzuan Abu Hassan and Wan Amizah Wan Mahmud. 2011. ‘Journalists and News Sources: Implications of Professionalism in War Reporting’. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal 16(3): 1-13.

      Palmer, Lindsay. 2015. ‘Outsourcing Authority in the Digital Age: Television News Networks and Freelance War Correspondents’. Critical Studies in Media Communication 32(4): 225-239.

      Pew Research Centre. 2000. Self Censorship: How Often and Why. Accessed: 26 October 2016. Available at http://www.people-press.org/2000/04/30/self-censorship-how-often-and-why/.

      Tuosto, Kylie. 2008. ‘The “Grunt Truth” of Embedded Journalism: The New Media/Military Relationship’. Stanford Journal of International Relations 10(1): 20-31.

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