Sunday, March 8, 2009

1945 Atomic Bomb Drops

August 6th 1945 marked a day of mixed emotions across the globe. It was the day that the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima followed by the second drop on August 9th on Nagasaki. It was a terrible day for the Japanese but was seen as a success for the U.S. military and its citizens. It was a hard story to cover because sensitivity was a huge issue. Reporters had to report what was going on but there were many fatalities and it had to be done with some caress. President Truman reported that the U.S. will be showing the Japanese little mercy stating “If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the like of which has never been seen on Earth,” and he delivered on his promise dropping the largest bomb on a country that has ever been used in an attack.
BBC news reported the story and sounded pretty openly about it. The title reads: “1945: U.S. Drops Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima,” so it is a very straight-forward title. They didn’t clearly take a side to the story and just reported on what was said. The story kept out commentary from anyone except for the President and the British Prime Minister and that is probably because no one else could have commented on the story without bias. But I found it puzzling that it was added into the story that the atomic bomb being made by the Americans showed success that we were able to produce it over our German opponents. The reporter wanted to add something positive to the article so it was sad that this attack happened but it should be seen as a good thing because at least we came up with this piece of technology first.
According to a story run but Newsweek magazine, during this time Americans saw World War II as a good war and agreed with whatever moves our government made and didn’t have a problem with the atomic bombs. Newsweek magazine put a more positive spin on the story stating “The atomic bombs dropped on Japan killed fewer people than did conventional bombs, but they were safer for aircrews. And by dropping the A-bombs, the Americans avoided the horrendous losses they would have suffered-and inflicted--by invading Japan.” This type of story really helped the American public live with a decision to bomb another country because this one sentence proves that the war would have been worse if other actions were taken.
The way the story in BBC was covered, it was done very objectively with the facts given and allowing the readers to form their own opinions afterward. The Newsweek story was written objectively but there are little bits of information throughout the piece that can help the reader decide that it was a hard decision to make but it was made with our best interests in mind, therefore was the right decision.


  1. Unfortunately, Newsweek's writer didn't know at the time that the atomic bomb (and any biological weapon) will result in consequences and side effects for years to come.
    In regards to objectivity, I think the best journalistic piece on your topic was written by John Hersey. His book "Hiroshima" presents a detailed account of that fateful day and the events that followed after. Although it is not what we call "hard news" — for it was not a breaking coverage, I think that to this day not whole a lot of reporters are capable to gather such sensitive information and present it so democratically as Hersey did. What I mean, he managed to show the truth and horrors of the event (people turning into ashes, soldiers with melted eyes, mothers with dead babies — that kind of staff), but did with such grace, such detachement, and such neutrality, that no one could accuse him of subjectivity. Of course, as I said before, when covering such sensitive and emotional topics, not everyone is capable to be "just an observer."
    As for "the best interests in mind," we have to remember that at the given period, the press was often manipulated by the government, the military (could be argued that it is still the case, even in our day and age), and public opinion, which at the time was had a solid base in "rally around the flag" attitude. Hence, one has to always take in consideration the societal zeitgeist. Overall, media is a mediator between the people and those who make decisions; for that reason alone, it can be easily manipulated and deceived.

  2. The press's technique to elicit morale and nationalism from a devastated nation is a funny tactic. As you stated, Newsweek used a story that presented potential casualty numbers if there were to be an invasion of Japan in comparison to actual casualties at the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This type of press does not resolve the losses from Pearl Harbor, but steers the public's attention away from our country's damage. This is a prime example of the power that the press has to manipulate public opinion, as well as emotions.