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Media and Military Spinning Closer Together

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RALEIGH — The way we're seeing war has changed over the years. Before, we had to wait for still photographs. Now, satellites and television technology are bringing us closer and closer to the battlefield. But there may be more to the media coverage than meets the eye.

When the bombs go off over Baghdad, the television cameras are rolling. Media coverage of wars has intensified from the first photographs of the Civil War, to film footage of the Vietnam War, to the live video of the Persian Gulf War.

"I got used to [during] Desert Storm seeing the war in real time," N.C. State Professor Robert Schrag says. "I expect us to have cameras at the site of hostility. That's a bizarre notion."

Schrag says it's bizarre when you realize the military is using the media to report the events it wants the public to know, while keeping secret the information that could endanger American troops.

At the same time, the media use the military not only to inform the public but to ultimately get ratings or sell newspapers.

"The spinning of the military by the media and the spinning of the media by the military has been going on ever since we've had media reporting wars in this country," Schrag says.

The difference now, he says, is the speed at which the spinning takes place. Now, we are able to watch bombs as they explode.

Schrag says our eyes should also be open to the notion that the media and military are spinning closer together.

"Old soldiers still no longer die, but they don't fade away," Schrag says. "They become network consultants."

So what does the future hold for media coverage of wars? Schrag believes it won't be long before Americans will be able to conduct theirowninterviews with military officials overseas, via the internet.