The Television War

Written by Lauren and Tori and modified by Tori and Robyn and Samantha

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Vietnam Television War
The Vietnam War was the first ‘television War’, which gave it the name of the ‘living room war.’ By the mid 1960’s the Vietnam War was considered to be the most important source of news for the public. By the mid 1960's, television was considered to be the most important source of news for the public and possibly, the most powerful influence on public opinion itself. Vietnam was the first war in the nation's history that has been fought on television where the footage taken was real. The footage from the War was broadcasted directly to the television in the homes of many. They were faced with many disturbing, cruel images and ugly facts of life and death in war and pain and suffering. Whilst the audience at home watching the footage of the Vietnam War took what was happening into their own opinions. When the news programs aired images of battle and death left Australians at home mortified with what was happening in front of them. The intense visual helped explained the complex nature of the war to the public who did not understand the military’s technical language. Reports from the war regally came into the household of many as they turned on the television every night for the daily information. Walter Cronkite a famous American reporter was trusted by many Americans which allowed them to interpret the footage in their own opinion. Combat interviews with American soldiers and helicopter scenes were all provided the television news industry with the drama that it required. The networks set up permanent bureaus in Saigon and sent hundreds of correspondents there throughout the war. In 1968, 86% of the CBS and NBC nightly news programs covered from the war, focused mostly on ground and air combat. This coverage was generally very supportive of U.S involvement in the war and of the soldier himself until 1967. The media labelled the conflict as a 'good guys shooting reds' story so that it could fit into the ongoing saga of the Cold War.

Did television effect the outcome of the Vietnam war?
Horrific scenes from the Vietnam war were shown on peoples televisions regularly, giving them an idea of what was really going on, which is how it got its nickname “the television war”. When the Australians arrived home from war, they were not welcomed by their country, they were abused and treated unfairly, due to the footage and interviews that were shown on the television.

Was the television coverage of the Vietnam War fairly done?

The people of Australia had a right to know what it was like for the people fighting in the war. Whether using television to show them the visual impact for the first time was a good idea or not, the media played a big part.

What was the impact of televised war on the Australian public
The impact of the televised war on not only the Australian public but the American public, British public and other places that had access to television around the world was quite huge and it did hit us all hard. The television broadcast of the Vietnam War really put into perspective what was really happening in Vietnam at the time of the War. The Vietnam War was the first war to be shown on television to the Australian public in their homes. Before television they relied on their local newspapers and radio which in the end only really told them what they wanted to hear how all the 'brave soldiers' were representing their country, not dying and being hurt just gaining victory. The pictures they watched on the television were not what they had been expecting. They saw the conditions the soldiers had to live in and they saw the conditions they had to fight in, with many people seeing this the public’s support for the war diminished and the withdrawal for allied troops was demanded by the people more and more. The public of Australia started protesting and rioting trying their hardest to -in the 70's 'make peace not war'- stop the war and bring back their loved ones from the horrific and brutal battlefront. The families became more and more worried only hoping their sons, husbands, grandchildren, relations and friends all came back safely. Yet everyone knew in the back of their heads this may not happen, the riots grew and the effect on the Australian public took its toll. The visual impact and the moving images that showed people being killed and weapons being fired recklessly scared the public like nothing had ever before, this was the other side of the world that they had never known. Every day in the quiet of people’s living rooms, the television would be on showing all the latest footage of another bomb attack, more suffering, more deaths and the horrid conditions. The longer this went on for the less likely the people that they loved would not make it back safely to their families and the more people began to grieve and hurt emotionally and physically.

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"Keep the camera rolling, no matter what" was Neil Davis' motto. In 1985 he filmed his own death.

Neil davis

Neil Davis was born on February the 14th 1939 in Southern Tasmania, he was one of Australia's most respected combat cameramen. In 1964 Neil went to Borneo to cover the confrontation between Indonesia and Malaya, It was his first war, although he didn’t see any action. Shortly after. Neil made his first visits to Vietnam and Laos. Even though he reported from across Asia, he is best remembered for his association with, and reporting on the war in Indo-China
Neil’s main preoccupation was with filming the effects of war and combat on individuals. Between 1970 and 1975 Neil spent Long amounts of time in Cambodia and he moved to Phnom Penh in 1971. He was badly wounded on several occasions, once he almost lost a leg, but he was determined to recover and continue his work.
On 29 January 1977 Neil married Chou Ping, but the couple separated in 1980. On 9 September 1985, Neil was killed by shrapnel while filming a coup in Bangkok.

This is a video of the Vietnam War soldiers and the television war. This video was made on a program called slide. You can access it from:

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