chapter  8
30 Pages

Security and insecurity

The expectation that during times of war the freedoms enjoyed by press in peacetime can no longer be guaranteed surely makes sense. Censorship, secrecy, misinformation and media management are expected when national security or the national interest is at stake. Of course, it would be reckless and irresponsible to allow journalists the scope to divulge sensitive information to our enemies. Once a nation is at war the relationship between security and liberty becomes strained. For journalists and news media, censorship and control, whether self-imposed or not, is just part of the deal when the stakes are so high. However, an important question concerns the extent and legitimacy of attempts to undermine freedom of speech, and other liberties, during times of national emergency and the balance (or not) that is achieved when covering such important issues. The quote above from the Baltimore Sun emphasises the importance of editorial responsibility in times of crisis and warns against government intrusion in journalism. It also highlights the apparent tension between security and liberty when journalists report on war and conflict. This chapter then explores this evident strain between security and liberty and focuses on these tensions with

regard journalism, censorship and control during times of war and when dealing with terrorism. The chapter will begin by outlining the notion of national security and national

interest which tend to be the main justifications for curbing civil liberties. We will also examine the Official Secrets Act and the D-A Notice system. From here we go on to discuss terrorism and the various domestic policy responses that have been put in place in recent years to combat terrorism before going on to examine the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland and the specific issues that governments had in managing media coverage of the conflict. The chapter then goes on to explore the so-called ‘war on terror’ before looking in more detail at the media and its relationship with and to terrorism. We then go on to analyse war and the media, first by briefly examining the historical development of war journalism and factors that have shaped it, then by looking at a number of examples where Cold War insecurities led to a crack down on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The chapter concludes by analysing censorship and modern warfare, looking particularly at the operationalisation of the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.