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Teachers: Citizenship:

Last Updated: Tuesday March 20 2007 14:45 GMT

Reporting on conflict

John Simpson reports from Iraq

Citizenship Media and society


How and why journalists and broadcasters filter information.

Spot the mistakes in a fictitious report, then draft an article based on dispatches from the front line.

Learning aims
  • Reasons why the media filters news about war

Start by reading or handing out some reports from HMS Ark Royal. They were written by a BBC reporter in the early days of the second Iraq war.
Click on the titles below to go to the page

1. Matthew Price on Ark Royal
The secrecy surrounding war reporting

2. Matthew Price on Ark Royal
All of Matthew's diary reports

Ask the class:

  • What restrictions was Matthew operating under?

  • Why had these been imposed?

If you have time the link below gives a summary of reporting restrictions written for children.

Do students feel the TV coverage they have seen of Iraq has followed these principles?

Main activity

Report on a conflict

Redraft the following imaginary report from a journalist on the front line. Consider what might need changing and why.

Major Liability
The Major reports from the frontline

As a group run through the possible problems in the Major's report, how many did they identify?

[A] Reveals military secrets.

[B] Reveals the identity of casualties before families have been notified.

[C] Withholds information because it is damaging to his government.

[D] Reports a rumour he can't back up.

[E] Xenophobic / racist comment.

[F] Propaganda / misinformation

Overall tone The reporting feels gung-ho and flippant, whilst the reality of combat is that people are being killed.

Extension activity

Produce the final copy of the magazine article.


Points [C] and [F] of the Major's piece are the most controversial. How much do the group think that journalists should 'help' their own side in a war?

Is this a question for which there is a right or wrong answer?

Why is truth the first casualty of war?

Teachers' Background

Click at the top right of the page for the BBC Producer Guidelines on War.

For all links and resources click at top right.

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