PR - Crisis and Management

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

How the Government uses PR to gain support for the war

In a country where media and politics have gone hand in hand for centuries, it is no surprise that the government and business influenced the way media is produced and distributed. While the government promoted communication networks, the press, education, and innovation in the past three centuries, government has also had negative effects on how media is created. Journalist I.F. Stone went as far to say "all governments lie". I believe that governmental influences contribute to the deceptive and misleading nature of media today.

For instance, in covering the story of Jessica Lynch, an American soldier in Iraq, American news programs lied when reporting that Lynch was captured by Iraqi troops, sustained bullet and stab wounds, and had been taken to an Iraqi hospital where Iraqi doctors abused her, psychically and mentally. When Jessica Lynch told her story, it was revealed that Lynch had no wounds, was treated with kindness by Iraqi doctors for broken bones and other injuries, and that several attempts were made to return Lynch to U.S. troops (NYT, 5/11/03, NP). The story the news media reported was false and meant to portray American soldiers as heroes and Iraqi soldiers and doctors as inhumane. This story elevated patriotism in the United States as well as increased contempt Iraq. The story helped to rally support for the United StateÂ’s efforts in Iraq. This type of media propaganda, which could also be viewed as public relations, proves that the government lies in order to promote government actions and policies.

More recently, declaring it "within our authorities and responsibilities," the top U.S. general in Iraq, George Casey, announced that the Lincoln Group program that places stories written by United States troops in Iraqi newspapers will continue. The Lincoln group, whose program was recently accepted by the Pentagon, "is working to boost economic development in Pakistan" (PR Daily). Lincoln aims to increase "investments in the country's textile, energy, technology and telecom" industries. Lincoln has showed interest in helping the U.S. Army Reserve communicate its "vision of the future." The contract includes "speech writing, research, development of a comprehensive communications plan, and support for national outreach programs (PR Daily).

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