How Media Can Change Narratives

When learning about historical events, have you ever wondered how a cohesive story could be put together and presented to others? To some, learning about history is tedious and difficult, but to others who enjoy history, the idea of researching historical events is fascinating and interesting. Those with historic-thinking minds may wonder about the question being asked and are eager to find the answer.

Piecing together cohesive research about a historical event requires overstepping many difficulties, one of which is bias. When studying primary sources – sources that are first hand, and come directly from the specified period – historians must identify any biases if possible. Similarly, when presenting an account of history, historians must be mindful and explain why a particular bias may exist, and try to mitigate the biases’ effect on their research. Bias can exist for numerous reasons, such as societal pressures existent at the time the piece is written or published, and the audience the source was written or intended for. It is important to be aware of biases because they can alter the validity of the piece. When biases are present within a source, in some cases, the sources themselves may not be considered reliable at all, and can not be trusted for further research.

Bias has become more recognizable during recent historical events, whereby those from all sides of a conflict are able to show their side of the story, due to technological advances like cellular phones. Combatting biases is easily done regarding recent historical events, such as America’s war with Vietnam. With photo and video evidence from all sides of the war, it is possible to see which biases were present, and how often those who reported the war were purposely attempting to present a certain view to their respective audiences. Additionally, the amount of media presented during events like the Vietnam War influenced the conflict, such as social movements that arose to promote peace, while hoping for a ceasefire.

Media during recent historical events has a clear purpose, whether it be pushing a certain bias or providing an unbiased point of view. Songs about patriotism promote nationalistic views, while songs about suffering at the hands of an intense head of power figure insight a feeling of dread. An example of the former is the song Ballad of the Green Berets. This song was released during the Vietnam War in 1966. This song promoted patriotism and painted American soldiers positively at a time when the military was receiving heat from many on the home front. This song’s aim was to promote patriotism to both the American soldiers and those who were skeptical about the war. Moreover, it sought to change the narrative surrounding the military.

In short, media is able to change the narrative around a certain topic depending on the bias it aims to push. Additionally, when providing a coherent series of events, it is up to the researchers to detect biases that exist and mitigate the effect it has on their research in order to produce an objective account of history. In a time when major conflicts are beginning to take commonplace again, it’s important we can identify and determine certain biases in order to come up with an unbiased and informed point of view.