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10 TV Moments That Changed the World

Vietnam War Coverage

Many Americans kept up on news from the front lines of World War II through government-mediated film-reel news updates that played in movie theaters during the war. Two decades later, when America went to war in Vietnam, the new technologies of color TV and mobile news broadcasting painted a very different picture -- one that had a major influence on the nation's sentiment about the war.

TV news crews in Vietnam were equipped with relatively portable TV cameras that allowed them to go to war with the troops. For the first time, reporters could "embed" with American soldiers and quickly share their front-line experiences with the rest of the world. American viewers saw firsthand the frustration, danger and destruction their loved ones had to face in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

As a result, American attitudes toward the war shifted. Many protested, and the unflinching broadcasts fanned a massive antiwar movement across the country.

After Vietnam, the U.S. military began instituting a more controlled, and in some ways more media-savvy, relationship with news media. While broadcasters lost the ability to send their news crews into the field with the freedom they had had in Vietnam, military media officials understood that American viewers would not allow a return to the propaganda and limited news of earlier wars. The striking of this balance continues today, as reporters embed with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan [sources: Kahn and Mair].

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