The Media In Australia During The Vietnam War

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Vietnam War was a time of fear and panic for Australia as the ideology of communism had spread. Australia had been influenced by the fear of communism by the US and media. The media had become a big part of the perspectives during the War, through TV coverage, protests, campaigns and newspapers. Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War produced dilemmas that divided the nation. The changing ways that the Australian newspapers covered about the conflict had reflected the dilemmas and intensified them. Australian society had become aware of the atrocities and consequences. Australian society had become worried because of the outcomes. Australia was mainly an Anglo-Saxon society, but Asia was coming in close. Yet media only showed certain views, not others and Australia were influenced to change. Something had to change the way Australia dealt with countries and veterans, especially during the current and future wars.

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The Television had become popular in US and Australia during the 1950’s-1960’s. The Vietnam War was also the first war where Australians could view images of the conflict in their living rooms. The war was often shown on TV, especially the outcomes or results of the atrocities. Australia’s thoughts on the war from the ANZAC legend were positive. Many had thought that the soldiers were brave and heroic, but TV broadcasts showed Vietnam War in a new perspective. Women had created protests to stop the conscription of young men entering the war during the 1960s. What was seen over TV broadcasting had also been the main reason for change because what they saw was horrific. In an ABC episode, Antony Funnell states that Australia’s understanding, and views of Vietnam War were not shaped from personal experiences, but what the media had shown through television and newspapers in the 60’s-70’s (The Australian Media and Vietnam War, 2007). TV, protests and newspapers were influential in framing the debate politically and socially in Australia about Vietnam. The media showed what happens behind the scenes of the once-famous pictures. Many people were devastated and influenced by the images or broadcastings because they had thought that the War was always about the “good” guys (Australia) beating the “bad” guys. These include North Vietnam also known as Viet Cong (VC), Germany and Turkey. Two images produced by John Immig depicting the Vietnam War greatly represents the images that once appeared on TV during the war. Television changed the way Australia viewed images and videos of conflict with the ability to show film footage of events and incidents which media presented almost immediately. In those images and videos, the enemies are always depicted as defeated. Images show they are either lying down, hands tied or blindfolded. Although they seem unarmed, the enemies were closely guarded. Suggesting that they are dangerous and harmful, despite the fact that not a lot of evidence can be provided against this statement. There are not many positive aspects of the war, nor the images provided or researched portrayed positivity.

Media about the Vietnam War had destroyed the courageous and determined identity Australia once had during wars. The sights and sounds of the Vietnam War which used to associate with Australia was a public memory of America. Attendance during ANZAC Days in the 1960’s and 1970’s has been very low. The disrespect received by Veterans from the Vietnam War and treatment of the veterans compared to those who had served before in the other two world wars had been worse and unpleasant. Society neglected and ignored Australian veterans from Vietnam; they never rose to the “legendary status” of the ANZAC according to a blog posted in 2012. Australia blamed the soldiers rather than the media. Veterans experienced hatred and the abandonment contributed to their suffering. Their actions had only one perspective, the media. And only around ten years after the war, the healing and recovery process had begun with Welcome Home marches commencing. Another twenty years after the war, the nation produced a memorial. There are many monuments dedicated to the Vietnam War around the country.

The soldiers were still considered brave but the consequences and situations for the soldiers were eye-opening and life-changing. Identity of the soldiers was deconstructed and rebuilt to deliver the best service. Australian society was greatly influenced by the perspectives of media through television, newspapers, campaigns and protests during the Vietnam War. To keep our nation safe and strong, there was a need for change and many tried to create that change. Australian society was blind-sided to the reality of war until the media stepped in and changed everyone’s point of view. Australian society had become aware and worried of the atrocities and consequences. Veterans had suffered the worst from the outcomes and Australia’s poor attitude. Yet recovery begun only a decade after the war and Australia was finally back on track to create changes to benefit the country.

03 December 2019

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