Our lecture with Mr. P Sainath- Have we grown as journalists yet?
“Why did the Americans bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki? “ MrSainathasked the class, as he walked in. And for a few minutes we all wondered, have we ever asked ourselves this, as human beings? As journalist?The class had many different answers to his one question. To end the war, to make Japan surrender, etc. etc.
Then Mr.Sainath slowly introduced the topic “war journalism “ to our class. He gave us facts that we had never thought could exist. He spoke about sources we never knew could be sources. But I’ll tell you one thing he didn’t do. He didn’t blame or make ANY comment that he felt or thought was his emotion or feeling towards the bombing way back in 1945, when he wasn’t even born. He just stated facts…and based his entire argument on that. This, gave me goosebumps.
Statement of power?
The truth was Japan made repeated and several attempts to surrender- and the world has proof of that. Because 35 years later when the confidential US government documents , became de classified people world over had access to them. Still Hiroshima was bombed with what was named the “little boy”. The bomb was created using uranium-235, a radioactive isotope of uranium. This uranium-235 atomic bomb, a product of US $2 billion worth of research, had never been tested. Nor had any atomic bomb yet been dropped from a plane. Although this same bomb was tested in a dessert where the “US army soldiers were to walk into it to check the damage it did”. It was said “that the best way to check a bomb was to test it in an area which was untouched by any kind of explosions earlier”. Hiroshima being a part of Japan “ and surrounded by hills” was one of the best areas to actually measure the damage. Navy Captain William S. Parsons, Chief of the Ordnance Division in the “Manhattan Project,” was the Enola Gay’s weaponeer. Who described it beautifully, “On the 6th August 1945, the bomb exploded 1,900 feet above the city and only missed the target, the Aioi bridge, by approximately 800 feet. The bomb was described “the mushroom cloud itself was a spectacular sight, a bubbling mass of purple-gray smoke and you could see it had a red core in it and everything was burning inside. It looked like lava or molasses covering a whole city. . .”
If Japan had witnessed such a devastation then why Nagasaki? Three days after the Hiroshima bomb blast, plutonium-239, on August 9, 1945 only three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, another B-29, was dropped on Nagasaki.
The first choice target for this bombing run had been Kokura. Since the haze over Kokura prevented the sighting of the bombing target, Bock’s Car continued on to its second target. At 11:02 a.m., the atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” was dropped over Nagasaki. The atomic bomb exploded 1,650 feet above the city. The epicenter of the bomb reached a temperature of several million degrees centigrade. The journalists at that time didn’t even know “radioactive something” existed. The word “atomic bomb” was used in the world for the first time. US claimed many different things including “the US military being the best in the world. “their technological advancement” “US being the good guys to finally get the war to an end, where Japan left them no choice” and all other ghastly things which weren’t shocking at all at that point of time. But the world only knew that much. The journalists were, for the first time part of press conferences.
The only way one could tell that the bombs had devastated Japan altogether, was to see it with your own eyes. And there were people who were commissioned to make a film to “check the damage of the war” as claimed by the US military. After the journalists were going back after what they saw their film reels were taken away by the military, in reality to see what had the bomb done “and how it could have improved, the effects of it!”
This was an example, Mr Sainath used to make us aware of things we would probably never think of. Do we ever question things that happen around us? Or do we take everything at face value? How many sources do we actually take into consideration? And how many and what should we actually take into consideration? Does the time the event occurred mattered? The knowledge we have now, cannot be taken back 70 years. How aware are we as students of journalism?
It made us think, me like never before.
I would end this feature by asking you, and myself about the shoot out at the Wisconsin gurdwara. A simple white man shooting at Sikhs because he claims he had mistaken them for Talibans, or “Muslims”. Doesn’t this all sound a little unreal, unbelievable? We call a white man an idiot simply because of his color and his stupidity for killing? But if the same was done by a Muslim or a man of “brown color” we would call it a terrorist attack, simply labeling it. Without even once thinking twice about what we just did. We actually anger a whole religious group by stereotyping. Isn’t this all very unfair? Is this what we call journalism? And how objective is our “final conclusion”.
RULE NUMBER 1- Journalists MUST be objective. Period.
He just had so much to say in those two classes, it was like he planted a ‘journalism bomb’ into each one of us.
I rest my case.