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The Media’s Role in Defining the Nation

The Active Voice


David Copeland

In 1897, William Randolph Hearst said that his newspaper did not simply cover events that had already happened. «It doesn’t wait for things to turn up», Hearst said. «It turns them up.» This book traces the close relationship between media and the United States’ development from the colonial period to the twenty-first century. It explores how the active voice of citizen-journalists and trained media professionals has turned to media to direct the moral compass of the people and to set the agenda for a nation, and discusses how changes in technology have altered the way in which participatory journalism is practiced. What makes the book powerful is that its assessment of the influence and use of media encompasses many levels: it explores the potential of media as an agent for change from within small communities to the national stage.


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8. My Notebook Still Carries Bloodstains: The World Wars and the Cold War 189


8. My Notebook Still Carries Bloodstains: The World Wars and the Cold War In the winter of 1945, Allied troops pushed toward Berlin. The landing on the beaches of Normandy, though it cost thousands of lives, led to the liberation of Paris and—ultimately—the end for Germany. The Allies successfully recov- ered after a final German offensive in Belgium known as the Battle of the Bulge failed and then focused on the Nazi homeland. Richard Tregaskis, a reporter for the International News Service who nearly died from a wound suffered in Italy that required placing a metal plate in his head, traveled with the troops into Germany. He called the final war efforts in Europe a “block-by-block and house-by-house struggle.” When Tregaskis wrote of moving through the streets of the German city of Geilenkirchen with American troops fighting and dying every step of the way, he made a simple but powerful observation that encapsulated everything about the war and a journalist covering it up close and personal: “And my notebook still carries bloodstains as a reminder of the occa- sion.”1 War creates a special relationship between the press and the military, an uneasy truce, according to Michael Sweeney. “News provides American citi- zens with information,” he says. “For the soldier, however, news is primarily a tool or weapon.”2 World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the con- current and continuing Cold War that followed the second world war did not always support the premise...

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