War, Media, and the Public

War, Media, and the Public


War, Media and the Public

Christopher Gelpi

From Friday, April 21, 2017
To Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Avenue, Room 120
Columbus, Ohio 4321

Watch Session 5 here

Watch Session 7 here

Register here for this event

See conference poster

Download conference program (pdf)


Christopher Gelpi, Chair, Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, and Professor of Political Science, The Ohio State University


The public’s ability to form attitudes and opinions that may guide decisions to use military force is among the most important duties of citizens of democratic nations. Yet most voters have virtually no direct exposure to warfare. This is especially true in the United States because of our geographic isolation, our physical security, and our reliance on an increasingly narrow cross-section of the public for military service. Consequently, Americans -- and most citizens of democracies -- receive essentially all of their information about war through the lens of the national media.

Media norms and practices about the coverage of war have changed dramatically over the past century, ranging from the “yellow journalism” of the turn of the 20th century, through the “golden age” of television journalism of towering figures like Walter Cronkite, to the splintered and partisan media environment of the internet. In this conference we will explore the evolution of these media norms and practices as well as their impact on how the public thinks and feels about war.

The conference will bring scholars from the fields of history, communications, geography, and political science together with journalists to talk about the coverage of warfare and its impact on the public.

Conference Schedule:

Friday, April 21

8:30 - 8:45 a.m. - Welcoming Remarks
Richard K. Herrmann, The Ohio State University
Christopher Gelpi, The Ohio State University

8:45 - 10:15 a.m. - Trends in Media Coverage of War
Scott Althaus, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, "The Spin Myth: What We Think We Know about Television Coverage of War and Why We're Wrong"
Steven Casey, London School of Economics, "The Media and Military at War, from World War I to Korea"

10:15 - 10:30 a.m. - Coffee Break

10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. - Viewing War from the Ground
Philipp Fraund, University of Konstanz, "The Picture Survives"
Mike Chinoy, University of Southern California. "Covering War: The Perspective from the Reporter on the Ground"
James Tyner, Kent State University, "War Debt, America’s Account of Justice in Cambodia"

1 - 2:30 p.m. - Media Framing and Representations of War
Matthew Baum, Harvard University, "How Selective Reporting Shapes Inferences About Conflict"
Olga Kamenchuk, The Ohio State University, "Media Legitimization and Representation of Conflict and Public Opinion"

2:30 - 2:45 p.m. - Coffee Break

2:45 - 4:15 p.m. - Elite Shaping of War Attitudes
Adam Berinsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "In Time of War"
Elizabeth Saunders, The George Washington University, "The Insiders' Game: Elites, Democracies, and War"

4:15 - 4:30 p.m. - Coffee Break

4:30 - 6 p.m. - New and Old Media Sources
Nathaniel Swigger, The Ohio State University, "Lifting the Fog of War Coverage: Description of Newspaper Coverage from World War I to Gulf War II"
Erik Nisbet, The Ohio State University, "Strategic Diffusion of Disinformation in the Context of 'Hybrid' Warfare"

6 - 6:30 p.m.: Reception

Saturday, April 22

9 - 10:30 a.m. - Media Coverage of the War on Terror
Sean Aday, The George Washington University, "Virtual Violence: Understanding the Potential Effectiveness of ISIS Imagery and Implications for CVE"
John Mueller, The Ohio State University, "Chasing Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism"

10:30 - 10:45 a.m. - Coffee Break

10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. - The Insiders’ Perspectives: Government and Media
Peter Feaver, Duke University, "Policy Makers and the Casualty Sensitivity Challenge"
Andrew Alexander, Ohio University, "Unprecedented Danger: The Growing Threats to Journalists Covering Conflicts"

12:15 - 12:30 p.m. - Closing Remarks
Christopher Gelpi, The Ohio State University


Sean Aday, Elliot School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
Andrew Alexander, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University
Scott Althaus, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Matthew Baum, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Adam Berinsky, Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Steve Casey, Department of International History, London School of Economics
Mike Chinoy, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California
Peter Feaver, Department of Political Science, Duke University
Philipp Fraund, Department of Literature, University of Konstanz
Olga Kamenchuk, School of Communication, The Ohio State University
Erik Nisbet, School of Communication, The Ohio State University
John Mueller, Department of Political Science, The Ohio State University
Elizabeth Saunders, Elliot School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
Nathaniel Swigger, Department of Political Science, The Ohio State University
James Tyner, Department of Geography, Kent State University

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