COMMENTARY by MTSU Professor Larry Burriss: War in Russia

Mar 01, 2022 at 09:47 am by WGNS

In this Commentary, MTSU Professor of Journalisism Larry Burriss talks about the media and concerns over war in the area of Russia…

Scroll down for more about Dr. Larry Burriss...


Verbatim of Above Audio: “Mental gymnastics are coming into play as both sides in the Ukrainian conflict spin text and photographs to prove their side is right, and righteous. But of course it is the media that are actually managing the various perceptions we are encountering.

But it also seems concerns about war as spectator sport are more a part of the discussion than ever. But once again, the perception simply does not match the reality.

During the Civil War, there was a very real fear Confederate forces would attack and occupy the nation’s capital. And how did people learn of the impending attack? Through a new technology called the telegraph.

But then, once people got the news, a strange thing happened: citizens of every description, including politicians, took to rooftops and hillsides to watch the battle of Bull Run.

And as they ate their picnic lunches they saw, and learned, that battles may sound heroic and sanitary in the news stories, sagas and songs, but the reality was vastly different

In fact, governments found battle images so disturbing they began to take steps to keep the horrors of war away from the general public, and even the politicians ultimately responsible for prosecuting wars.

So realistic news from battlefields in World War I and World War II were kept away from the public. In fact, it was some 18 months after Pearl Harbor before pictures were finally released to the public.

Jump ahead to Viet Nam, and the relatively new developments in broadcasting brough the war into our living rooms. While people were eating their dinners, pictures of body bags and flag-draped coffins were flickering across their televisions screens.

By the end of the last century real combat looked like a video game as laser-guided weapons dashed across computer screens to silently explode in a green vision-enhanced cloud. With not a body in sight.

So as we watch the new images of war come across traditional and social media perhaps we need to ask if the perception in our heads is matching the reality on the ground. - I’m Larry Burriss.



About Dr. Burriss

Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss' publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth.

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.    


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