Shooting the Messenger


Shooting the Messenger

The Political Impact of War Reporting

Paul L. Moorcraft and Philip M. Taylor

336 pages


June 2008


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eBook (PDF)
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July 2011


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About the Book

As the literature on military-media relations grows, it is informed by antagonism either from journalists who report on wars or from ex-soldiers in their memoirs. Academics who attempt more judicious accounts rarely have any professional military or media experience. A working knowledge of the operational constraints of both professions underscores Shooting the Messenger. A veteran war correspondent and think tank director, Paul L. Moorcraft has served in the British Ministry of Defence, while historian-by-training Philip M. Taylor is a professor of international communications who has lectured widely to the U.S. military and at NATO institutions. Some of the topics they examine in this wide-ranging history of military-media relations are: – the interface between soldiers and civilian reporters covering conflicts – the sometimes grey area between reporters’ right or need to know and the operational security constraints imposed by the military – the military’s manipulation of journalists who accept it as a trade-off for safer battlefield access – the resultant gap between images of war and their reality – the evolving nature of media technology and the difficulties—and opportunities—this poses to the military – journalistic performance in reporting conflict as an observer or a participant Moorcraft and Taylor provide a bridge over which each side can pass and a path to mutual understanding.

Author Bio

Philip M. Taylor, now deceased, was Professor of International Communications at the University of Leeds and acknowledged as one of the foremost authorities in propaganda history and public diplomacy.


Shooting the Messenger is an essential read for anyone interested in what generals and politicians are doing to shape and restrict good war reporting. Paul L. Moorcraft and Philip M. Taylor give us the big historical picture as well as the small anecdotal and entertaining details that make this book a great read. These two academics have hammered out a text that catalogues both the manipulations of ‘powers that be’ and the mishaps—and misreporting—of foolish war correspondents. It is reassuring to know that someone is keeping tabs on both the messengers and their masters.”—Philip Smucker, author of Al Qaeda’s Great Escape: The Military and the Media on Terror's Trail

Shooting the Messenger is a crisp, provocative history that dispels many of the myths about war reporting. Moorcraft and Taylor understand the harsh realities of covering combat and dealing with political responses to that coverage.”—Philip Seib, professor of journalism and public diplomacy, University of Southern California, and author of The Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media are Reshaping Global Politics

“A penetrating look at the complex issues surrounding war reporting.”—Mark Kukis, Baghdad correspondent, Time Magazine, and author of "My Heart Became Atached": The Strange Journey of John Walker Lindh

“[A]n interesting, compelling book. Highly recommended."—Choice

"Shooting the Messenger is a cracking history of war reporting and its political impact, unreservedly recommended reading for practitioners, scholars, and journalists alike."—RUSI Journal

“Will prove an invaluable title for any collection strong in either military history, military issues, or journalism studies.”—Midwest Book Review