Reporting the Wars

  • Valerie Adams


A former colonel in the Royal Marines tells of an incident which occurred in Tanganyika in 1964. His men had just taken up their positions along the coastal road when he received a radio call from an obviously worried junior officer: ‘Sir, a journalist has arrived. Shall I arrest him?’1 On this occasion the pressman escaped being clapped in irons, but the lieutenant’s reaction to the media’s presence at a sensitive operational time was far from untypical. Kitchener, both in the Sudan and subsequently, rarely disguised his suspicion and dislike of newspaper men.2 During the First World War, reporters were not allowed to the front until June 1915; and then were kept firmly under the control of the military with strict censorship being applied.3 The Royal Navy refused to embark journalists on warships — Winston Churchill, at the time First Lord of the Admiralty, is quoted as saying ‘A warship in action has no place for a journalist.’4 Similarly in the Second World War, the Royal Navy decided against taking reporters to sea on operations, although this ruling was later relaxed a little.5


Military Operation British Government American Troop Rule Book Coastal Road 
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  1. 29.
    Marguerite Higgins, War in Korea (New York: Doubleday, 1951) quoted in Fraser, Broadcast Coverage of the Korean War p. 81.Google Scholar
  2. 64.
    C. Richard Hofstetter and David W. Moore, ‘Watching TV News and Supporting the Military’, Armed Forces and Society, vol. 5, no. 2 (February 1979).Google Scholar
  3. 75.
    Colonel Harry G. Summers, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (Presidio, 1982 )Google Scholar
  4. 77.
    Colonel William V. Kennedy, ‘It Takes More than Talent to Cover a War’, Army (July 1978).Google Scholar

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© Valerie Adams 1986

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  • Valerie Adams

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