Teaching Case - Reporting in the “Fog of War”: The Story of Jessica Lynch

Reporting in the “Fog of War”: The Story of Jessica Lynch


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  • Product Description

    On the evening of April 1, 2003, Americans turning on their televisions for the latest news on the two-week-old war in Iraq got a happy surprise: Jessica Lynch, a young Army private missing in action, had been rescued from an Iraqi hospital where she had lain, grievously injured, for ten days. Dramatic accounts of the rescue effort saturated the airwaves and ran on the front pages of newspapers across the country. Lynch's rescuers were not the only ones whose heroism was celebrated in the media, however. The Washington Post reported on its front page that Lynch had "fought fiercely" when her maintenance company was ambushed, and had sustained gunshot and stab wounds during the battle. The Post story was quickly picked up by other newspapers and by TV. While Lynch herself remained in seclusion in an Army hospital, the saga of her capture and rescue was told and retold in the media; friends and family were exhaustively interviewed, and the soon-to-be familiar video footage of her rescue replayed on network and cable news shows; newspaper editorials hailed her bravery and the daring of her rescuers. Yet three months later, key parts of the account had been debunked or called into question. This case tells the story of the recriminations that followed new information about the capture and rescue--some in the press blamed the Pentagon for hyping the Jessica Lynch story for "propaganda" purposes, while some in the Pentagon blamed the press for over-dramatizing the story and indulging in speculative reporting.

    Learning Objective:
    The case allows for discussion of the relationship between public officials and news organizations and the reasons each have for cooperating, or not cooperating, with each other. It also encourages discussion of the use of anonymous sources, and of the elements that combine to create powerful news stories.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: November 01, 2004
    HKS Case Number: 1773.0
    Case Author: Esther Scott
    Faculty Lead: Alex Jones
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 36
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    _year: 2000-2009
    _pages: 25+
    _geography: US & Canada
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