Dunsmore Speaks on Media
Ex-ABC Reporter Says War Coverage May Threaten Troops
A former ABC news foreign correspondent said last night that live coverage of war by today's media may place American troops in danger.
At last night's Eliot House Senior Common Room talk, Barrie Dunsmore emphasized the potential conflict between rapid televised reports and military security.
Dunsmore, who is fellow at the Shorenstein Center of the Kennedy School of Government and a visiting scholar living in Eliot House, is studying live-coverage and its consequences.
As a correspondent, Dunsmore reported on the Vietnam War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
"There is no doubt that [live coverage] has the potential to preclude operational security," Dunsmore said, explaining if there had been live coverage of D-Day during world war two it might well have jeopardized the allied victory.
According to Dunsmore, today's news networks worry so much about grabbing viewers attention that they prevent reporters from spending substantial time developing their stories.
Unlike the past, when news reels and war correspondence dominated popular culture, Dunsmore said networks today deem in-depth coverage too expensive and time-consuming.
Dunsmore criticized network stations for placing reporters in war zones without adequate preparation.
"Information will go in a television reporter's ear and out his mouth without ever touching the brain," he said.
Furthermore, Dunsmore said network anchors have become so worried about their images that they have lost sight of what they are supposed to be doing, which is reporting the news.
Despite these criticisms, Dunsmore said he had hoped guidelines could be created which would improve televised war coverage.
Although he said he has talked to dozens of major political figures regarding war-time news coverage, including retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, he said last night he is no longer hopeful that such regulations will be implemented.
"Times change," Dunsmore concluded. "It may be disturbing to have to deal with such a news media today but frankly that's the way it is."