The Ten Month Beat

An account of the ten months at the graduate school of journalism for the class of 2006.


Kurt Schork would be proud and sickened

Italian journalists are taking revenge for Nicola Calipari in the best way they can: they've kept working. And now, they bring us news we don't want but may need - about U.S. use of napalm at Fallujah.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster,
this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I
heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white
phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down
to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children.
Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150
metres is done for."

-- The Independent, US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah

Being twice the age of some of you, I found this a teeny bit of a flashback; I had just turned ten when photos of the napalmed Kim Phuc streamed across the AP wire. Growing up in a Republican household, I was probably still wearing a Nixon button I got from my father. You can likely count me as one of the millions driven by that image to ask more questions about the war in Vietnam. I wonder if this film will do the same.

I'm curious especially what broadcast folks think. And for new media folk - is the quality of the video enough for it to have an impact?

I'm curious to see how much, or little, these images will go from Italian TV and the London Independent to U.S. outlets. Should they, do you think? I also wonder - are people so saturated with fictional violent imagery that they won't have the same impact as 30 years ago?


  • At 12:14 AM, Blogger kimberly kinchen said…

    Like most everyone else here, I don't have time to read the papers. I haven't heard a peep about this on NPR, and doubt we'll hear anything in the U.S. press (read: msm) for a while, if at all.

    I recently finished reading Michael Herr's book about Vietnam, Dispatches, and wrote about that for Benedict's seminar (one of few serious benefits afforded us part-timers). Doing a little background I was suprised to discover a reference to research showing that all the TV footage actually resulted in an increase in support for the war, and not, as we often assume, the other way around. I don't know what effect print or radio coverage may have had, but it was clear that seeing the images of war didn't result in less support for the war. It's so counterintuitive. And I wonder what a similar survey would find today. I'll have to dig up the reference, which I'm too tired and post-class drunk (thanks leila d.) to do right now.

  • At 12:46 AM, Blogger Il catcher ubriaco said…

    RaiNews24's doc has been aired a week ago. Here is the link for the english version.
    It is not balanced (no government voices) but accurate and impressive. The footage are scary and disgusting. Many newspapers and tv all over Europe are talking about it, and today Lt Col Barry Venablea, a Pentagon spokesman, told the BBC that white posphorus "was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants." The government earlier denied it had been used in Falluja at all. But remember that Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices in war. So for the US is not chemical weapon. Enjoy. Ale


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