School of Communication

School of Communication director authors ‘The Press March to War’

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Cover of Steve Hallock's book A new book by Steve Hallock, Ph.D., director of the School of Communication, considers editorial evidence that elite national newspapers have helped to construct a war agenda that has supported, rather than questioned, United States military action during the post-World War II era.

The Press March to War provides a comprehensive overview of conflicts from the Korean War to U.S. operations in Libya and outlines how newspapers have set the stage for U.S. military intervention.

Peter Lang Publishing released the book this month as part of its “Mediating American History” series.  

Hallock says the complicit support of military intervention contravenes the perceived traditional press role of watchdog over government policies.

“The most crucial period for the watchdog role to occur is during the buildup to war, when presidents and their administrations are making the case and putting forth the justification for military intervention,” Hallock said.

“But my research for this book found that the press, during this crucial pre-war period, was largely supportive of these justifications for military activity, with the watchdog skepticism and investigative reporting coming after the troops have landed and the bombs have dropped – once we’re involved in the war and it’s harder to get out of the entanglement.”

Hallock focused on elite newspapers during post-World War II in his research. The Press March to War outlines the author’s conclusions about the media’s supportive relationship to power and details how major newspapers helped to build conflict rationales during critical periods leading up to combat. Steve Hallock photo by Tom Bell

Hallock has nearly 30 years of newspaper experience. As an editor, editorial writer, columnist and reporter, he won national and regional awards for his enterprise and investigative reporting and commentary.  Today, while leading Point Park’s School of Communication and directing the University’s master’s program in journalism and mass communication, he continues to write commentaries and books on media topics.

Hallock has published op-ed commentaries for newspapers that include The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Denver Post.

In addition to The Press March to War, Hallock has authored Reporters Who Made History: Great American Journalists on the Issues and Crises of the Late Twentieth Century (Praeger 2010) and Editorial and Opinion: The Dwindling Marketplace of Ideas in Today’s News (Praeger 2007).

• Read a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Q&A with Steve Hallock: Sleepy 'watchdogs' in the run-up to war

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