By Ashley Lee: PNT Staff Writer
Students and community members alike attended the First Amendment conference Wednesday co-sponsored by Eastern New Mexico University’s department of Communicative Arts and Sciences and the Chase. The panel discussion was designed to encourage people to question American media’s role during wartime, say organizers.
Amber Davis a Public Relations Student from Eastern New Mexico University moderated the forum.
“I am a communication major with plans to be working in the public affairs office in the military since this was interesting to me I decided to get involved,” said Davis.
Janet Roehl professor of journalism started out the conference with a brief history of the roles that media has played during times of war throughout history. The impact that media has had on shaping the feelings that people have toward war and the idea of what is taking place in that war. She ended with a quote heard often: “The first casualty of war is the truth.”
Kevin Mitchell a communication professor at ENMU addressed the issue of people turning off the television because of the news coverage that we receive.
“The reason that everyone just cannot take one more minute of the coverage that the news is giving them, I think it became a homogenous coverage, I never see anything new added to the story,” said Mitchell. “If we want people to watch it then we need to put it on my-space,” Mitchell quipped.
“I can pick and choose what news I want to look at on the Internet and I think that that is a good thing,” said Margaret Kirby assistant professor of communication at ENMU.
“We are information machines, the more information we get from wherever we choose, the better we are at determining what we are looking at,” said Patti Dobson instructor of communication at ENMU.
Dobson spoke about the price that not only journalists pay but their families as well, so that the American public can be informed about what is going on in another country where the U.S. is fighting a war.
The question that she asked was: Is a story or truth worth the risk?
She mentioned journalists who have lost their lives overseas such as Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and murdered Jan. 23, 2002 on his way to an interview with a supposed terrorist leader in Pakistan as well as others who she called journalism casualties of war.
“I remember watching the Vietnam war play out on the television and at age 6 or 7,” said Dobson, “There were piles and piles of bodies, and that coverage is necessary,” she added.
Kirby wanted everyone to think about news or propaganda during her presentation. Kirby presented a video from the Anderson Copper 360 show of the video tape that was made by insurgents that showed snipers in Iraq targeting and killing American troops. She wanted the audience to think about whether news is news or just propaganda.