The Lens May Lie: Media Miscommunication

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Deafening silence. Erupting gunfire. Returning volley. Greeting death. Blood curdling screams of the fallen shatter the eardrums of fellow soldiers as the enemy ambushes the group from the left, although they anticipated an attack from the right. A simple misunderstood statement cost them their lives, taken not because of disobedience or ill-preparedness, but the lack of clear communication. For ages, men carried messages of enemy positions, reinforcements, and artillery. Contrary to popular belief, information was, in fact, misunderstood at times by the recipient. In most cases, the perception of the message decides whether the recipient faces success or tragedy. Unfortunately, most miscommunications end in demise, such as that of the media’s involvement in the Vietnam War. By vaguely conveying the true message, the American media furthered the blunders of war through the photographic representation of events. In some cases, editors failed to publish what happened “behind the scenes.” The news media seemed to believe that what happened behind the lens was far less important than the image in front. This minor mistake became a fatal flaw in the medial representation of the Vietnam War, for the photographs were open to the public’s interpretation. In others, a lacking background story to the frame gave little to no insight on what actually happened. Therefore, the public had to assume the actions, emotions, and prior events that could not be drawn from the image alone. In the public eye, shots came from across Southeast Asia in all forms: scarred civilians, war-torn towns, soldiers in agony. They presented people--just people. People with fathers and sons, loved ones and lost ones. That man who dropped his coffee on the corner lost... ... middle of paper ... ... Vietnam, even though the shades of gray obscured the colorful truth in the frozen moments of time. Works Cited Adler, Margot. "The Vietnam War, Through Eddie Adams' Lens." NPR. NPR, 24 Mar. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Associate Press. "Vietnam War Saigon Execution." Vietnam War Saigon Execution. Associated Press, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Associated Press. "The Burning Monk." AP Explore. Associated Press, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Corona, Lauren. "The Story Behind the Man Who Was Killed in the Famous “Saigon Execution” Photo." Today I Found Out RSS. N.p., 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Myre, Greg. "Malcolm Browne, Journalist Who Took The 'Burning Monk' Photo, Dies." NPR. NPR, 28 Aug. 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Zhang, Michael. "Interview with Nick Ut, the Photojournalist Who Shot the Iconic "Napalm Girl" Photo." PetaPixel RSS. N.p., 19 Sept. 2012. Web. 9 Nov. 2013.

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