Vietnam: The First ‘Media War’
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Nov 7, 2011

Vietnam: The First ‘Media War’

The war in Vietnam was a nasty affair on many levels. With the US using the ‘agent orange’ chemical, which still affects Vietnamese heath even today, Napalm bombs, atrocities committed on both sides and the disgusting treatment of US POWs. Disturbing frontline images were brought to the public’s attention by mass media around the world, causing public outcry and fuelling the anti-war feeling in the US.

For the first time there was extensive media coverage of the war beamed back to people back home in the form of video footage and photographs. The true extent of the war was seen by the millions of American’s back home, and the images they saw caused a strong anti-war movement, led by thousands or college students and notable celebrities including World heavy-weight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and singer songwriter Bob Dylan.

The picture above is perhaps one of the most famous to come from the war; it shows 9 year old Kim running naked, having had her clothes burnt off by a napalm bomb. The image shows the effect war has on innocent civilians, even forgotten today, however the personal anguish on the faces of these children will never be forgotten, and the image sent shock waves around the world, fuelling the anti-war feeling in the US even further.

The demonstrations in the US not only kept the anti-war movement in the headlines, it meant the media kept the developments of the war itself in the headlines, it wasn’t just a foreign war, the numbers of dead US troops and images coming back from the war meant it felt a lot closer to home.

In one of the defining images of the Vietnam War, General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes Vietcong suspect Nguyen Van Lem, who was said to have overseen the murder of many South Vietnamese Police officers and their families. The picture, shot by photojournalist Eddie Adams won the Pulitzer Prize and shows the brutality of war.

The picture and video footage was shown around the world and the image became a symbol of the anti-war stance, with some claiming the South Vietnamese were just as capable of cruelty as those of the Vietcong.  Adams later regretted taking the photo, because it served both the anti-war feeling and ruined the general’s reputation, who he regarded as a great man.

This image captured the final moments of the Vietnam War, where a helicopter is rescuing CIA operatives and Vietnamese refugees from the top of an apartment building.

 With the city of Saigon surrounded by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, the city was set to fall within hours; this image captured the dramatic events and became the symbol of the fall of Saigon and the end of the war.

Author Bio: Matthew Graham is a copy writer with a degree in History, he is also an enthusiastic photographer and his client provides a cheap digital camera and digital slr camera range.