Thursday, July 10, 2008

Photojournalism in the Vietnam War

Photojournalism and the Vietnam War

Media coverage of the war expanded and played a role in shaping public attitudes toward the war.

A high school student is quoted as saying, "To show a photograph of one naked girl crying after she had been napalmed changes the entire meaning of the war to a high school student." From, Lies My Teacher Told Me

Project Idea: Choose four images from the Vietnam War linked below. Answer the following questions:
1. What is depicted in the photographs?
2. How does this photograph make you feel?
3. Do you think these photographs are too graphic to be printed in a newspaper? Why or why not?
4. Do you think these photographs add to or detract from the news stories they accompany?

If you are interested in focusing on the impact of photojournalism during the Vietnam War, the links below contain images and relevant information.

The Effects of Photojournalism on the Protest Movement During the Vietnam War
Vietnam's Most Harrowing Photo: From Guilt to Grace

Some of you are interested in photojournalism but would like to study it within a different historical context. I have lessons on photojournalism in the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement on my wikispace page.

NPR recently did a story on a new book on Dorothea Lange's work chronicling the Depression.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92656801&ps=bb3
A story on the Japanese experience in internment camps told through photographs:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6519565

19 comments :

jaleesaWH said...

hey i looked at the photos and i thought that they were very thought provoking because it makes you actually have to see some of the effects of what war actually looks like and how it effects people. the photos really make me feel a strong hatred towards war, seeing how war will "help" both countries in the long end it just sickens me to see that we (the us)caused alot of this damage and corruption in this country.

jaleesaWH said...

have anything i commented on counted?

Lea Hansen-George said...

jaleesa - I'm so happy you are commenting from home!

Yes, your comments on yesterday's story about the G-8 Summit/discussion on global food crisis counts as a project. Plus your work on media literacy as it relates to American girls counts as another project.

Have I missed something? (keep in mind, I look at the amount of time and effort involved in a project when granting credit.) I was VERY impressed with you taking the initiative the other day by going to the library to get some books and I was also VERY impressed with you taking the time to read a news story and commenting on it (even without me asking you to do so!)

Lea Hansen-George said...

jaleesawh- about this post, you can choose any four iconic images from the Vietnam War. You do not have to choose the images I've included in the slide show or the images found in the links I've provided.

The three I included in the slide show had a huge impact on me personally, especially the photograph of the My Lai Massacre. Are you familiar with the story of My Lai?

The story of the little girl in the photograph of the children running down the street is a fascinating one. I suggest researching that photograph as well. You can start by googling "iconic photographs Vietnam War." Inevitably, you will find some information surrounding each of the photos somewhere on the web.

Aagaard_US said...

1.A Vietnamese girl running naked down a road after being scorched by napalm.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1a/RageAgainsttheMachineRageAgainsttheMachine.jpg
A Buddhist monk protesting violence by burning himself
and General Loan holding a gun to a Vietcong soldier's head.

2.It's terrifying. It's just terrible to see someone (who I'm assuming is) totally innocent to have their body and mind destroyed by the hate, ignorance, and violent beliefs of other inconsiderate people.
At once, this picture is both beautiful and disturbing to me. Disturbing for obvious reasons, because it's never pleasant to see a man burning alive. But it is beautiful to me to see someone with such love and passion in his heart for his fellow monks and for buddha to be able to immolate himself.
Again, this photograph disgusts me. I'm sure that there is someone out there who could test my temper past the breaking point, but I just absolutely without exception disagree with any violence and certainly the murder or execution of someone else.

3.I think that censorship of things like this in the media are terrible, the people need to know, and if children see it, and are also well informed about the images' importance, then I believe that it can only be a positive experience.

4.That's hard to tell. I think they can get a much better reaction out of people than just words, but unfourtunately I think some of the time people will just see the images and freak out and not really give a crap, so it's hard to tell...I think people need to have the urge to inform themselves.

Lea Hansen-George said...

aaagaard- I agree, it is difficult to find an appropriate "line" with regard to what is "okay" and what it not when it comes to publishing potentially controversial photographs. On the one hand, many would argue the iconic image of the My Lai Massacre was one of the "turning points" in the war. The image is disturbing at the deepest, darkest level. It is indeed traumatizing to look at. It turned many people against the war. On the other hand, viewed by a child, the image can have damaging, long-lasting effects.

How do you feel about "time, place, manner" restrictions?

Lea Hansen-George said...

Time,place, manner:
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech. This guarantee generally safeguards the right of individuals to express themselves without governmental restraint. Nevertheless, the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment is not absolute. It has never been interpreted to guarantee all forms of speech without any restraint whatsoever. Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that state and federal governments may place reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of individual expression. Time, place, and manner (TPM) restrictions accommodate public convenience and promote order by regulating traffic flow, preserving property interests, conserving the environment, and protecting the administration of justice.

The Supreme Court has developed a four-part analysis to evaluate the constitutionality of TPM restrictions. To pass muster under the First Amendment, TPM restrictions must be contentneutral, be narrowly drawn, serve a significant government interest, and leave open alternative channels of communication. Application of this analysis varies in accordance with the circumstances of each case.

Aagaard_US said...

About TPM restrictions, I'm not sure, like you said it's sticky because the psychological effects of things on people are not always the same. Still, I guess I'm pretty pissed about anything like the Parents Music Resource Center who wants to try and censor anything remotely offensive in music (they slapped a Parental Advisory for Explicit Lyrics on a Frank Zappa album that was instrumental...WTF?). I always think that parents need to be more responsible, and I think that parents are going to be the biggest reason for anything that's going wrong with "kids these days"

L McBaker4 said...

1. What is shown is the brutality of the Vietnamese to there own people during the war the depiction is shown that all there is, is carnage and violence.

2. It makes me feel helpless being that all of the people that had died really had no chance to survive they kind of just got blown away, and some where just deaths that really should not have occurred that was forced on by there own people the brutality to show that they are strong and are willing to sacrifice.

3. No, those pictures would not be to graphic, I think that anything related to war and that aftermath of it or even “during” showed be shown to explain what is happening and the violence/damage and maybe it would make people want to help because it would have such a great impact.

4. These pictures certainly would attract people, in a large scale violence or a unfortunate events around the world the people would like to know what is going on the earth they live and would hopefully or be mainly concerned.

tylermi w said...

I have viewed the images which where... The woman knealing in terror by the boy dead on the street... The girl running naked after being hit by a napalm attack...and a general holding a gun to a young Vietcong soldiers head.

These images simpley make me feel outright mad and yet simpothetic. I have always been anti war and anti violence at all costs. Though these pictures further instill this feeeling of hate twards war and the injustice involved in war. Really at the same time it brings to question in my mind some doubt as to these pictures. For instatnce in the picture of the terrofied woman kneeling by the dead corpse of a young Vietnamese boy there is no specification as to who this boy is or who killed him. For all we know this could have been an American or a vietnamese. Either way we can see the horrifieing affects war has but there still bares the question who is that bad guy in this photo? A Vietnamese person might view this and see American troops as awfull people for having killed one of their young men. On the other hand though show this to an American they could see it as A young boy slaughtered by the Vietnamese soldiers. Now the picture of the wounded naked girl running down the road followed by American soldiers after a gyant napalm attack whats to say that it was the Veitnamese who fired the napalm? It could have very well been shelling from the Americans just as well as it could be from the Veitnamese. Although these photos are very strong and touching they leave so much open to the person viewing them. Whos to say for instance in the picture of the little girl that she is not being chased along with others by the American soldiers? The only pisture i foudn that could be partially interpretted without much dispute was the Vietnamese general holding a gun to a young ragged soldiers head dressed in average clothing. This image is very strong as to its content not inm the sens eof blood or gore but rather one can feel the emotion and tension in the photo. It's almost like when you veiw all of these photos time around u just halts and the only thing one can center on is them. Almost like those movies in which during a huge action scene when time stops for just a second and the camera pivots around the individuals then abruptly stops and *BAM!!* the action begins again. Such photographs have every right to be showed in all sorts of media although i feel if they are to be showed on television or other forms of media there should be a audio and visual warning alerting one of their content before one veiws the photo. Those mature enough to handle such images and other horrific material hav etheir rights to see such. Really although such photos hav ethe good with the bad one can never ever know the full affect of the war unless they where in that hell themselves. Ounce again as to answer to the final question i really believe that whether such images add or take away from the news storries they accompany depends on who is veiwing such and there stand on such matters. Everyones perception is different there for as one person may look at these photos and turn anti war others may look at them and suppor tthe war, some may feel inspired others horrified some may not even care. Pls post back i would be glad to do even further research into such matters or answer any further questions.

Lea Hansen-George said...

mcbaker- This satisfies another project requirement. Good job.

Lea Hansen-George said...

tyler- This satisfies another project requirement. Good job.

Lea Hansen-George said...

aagaard - This satisfies another project requirement. Good job.

do ya yant said...

I looked at the photos and i thought they were both very disturbing and very touching at the same time. It was very disturbing because the pictures are showing how bad the vietnamese people suffered during the vietnam war.

do ya yant said...

1.The vietnamese people are dying or are being hurt by there own people.
2.These photographs make me feel sad and sick at the same time.
3.No, I think people should know what the vietnam war actually looked like.
4.I think the photographs add to because people can actually see what was going on before the war and during the war.

Stadele U.S. said...

1. That the vietnamese are getting killed left and right all of the time.
2. These photos make me feel luck for what a have, and sad for whp had to go through that.
3. I would say that the picture with the guy holding a gun to the other guys head might be a little overboard. Because he is showing that he wants to kill somebody.
4. Yea they give you a physical image on whats heppening.

Lea Hansen-George said...

skylor, So you thought the photos you examined were suitable for publication....can you think of an example of a photograph that is unsuitable? Spend a moment thinking about the types of photographs you see in newspapers and magazines. Have you ever seen something you thought "crossed-the-line?" Maybe the photograph was used for sensationalistic purposes with little regard for the people in the photograph or the friends and family of those in the photograph...or maybe the photograph bordered on "obscenity" etc. I'm just throwing out some ideas to get you thinking.

Does it make a difference if a photograph is in black and white or in color? Does it matter how big the photograph is? Does it matter if it’s on the front page or buried someplace inside?

Lea Hansen-George said...

stadele- I'd like you to do a little research on the photograph of the man with a gun to his head. I want you to find out a little more about the context of the photograph.

How would you go about researching the story behind this photograph?

Brainstorm ideas, talk with friends play around with searches on the internet. Let me know what you find.

Lea Hansen-George said...

sadele- Under the post "Links People Are Looking For" I listed a few links regarding iconic images in the Vietnam War. The newseum link is REALLY GOOD.