In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Media

  • Introduction
  • Korean War
  • The Vietnam War
  • Persian Gulf War

Military History Media
Steven Casey
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 January 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0124


The media has evolved over time, from the mass press of the 19th century, through the radio, movie, and television industries of the 20th century, and the Internet and global TV networks of recent vintage. Each of these changes has created fresh problems for governments in wartime, whose first instinct is to try to control the media, censoring those stories that it thinks will undermine the war effort, while saturating the same media outlets with propaganda to sell the war to the homefront. The state’s success in these efforts is often at the heart of the literature. Much depends on the specific historical context. The changing nature of the media is one vital contextual element, and this is the subject of the essay’s second section. The other is either the type of war or type of state, and these are highlighted in the remaining sections, which explore the main conflicts since 1914. Finally, the literature on the media not only concentrates on the state’s power over the media; sometimes, it is also interested in the media’s role in developing popular culture about war or reflecting opinion about enemies or allies.

General Overviews

A number of general works set out the broad contours of the debate. Chronological accounts offer a broad comparative perspective across wars, looking at the main changes in the past hundred or so years. Other books focus on the crucial debate of where power lies: with the government or with the media and whether this varies across regime types and over time. Then there are the works that touch upon the media in passing, in an effort either to unearth broad cultural trends about war or to ascertain public attitudes toward a specific conflict, especially before the era of exhaustive opinion polling.

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