What issues do journalists face when covering war? How does war coverage differ between World War II and today? What was it like filing stories for National Geographic on board the vessel for Robert Ballard’s 2004 expedition to the Titanic? These are some of the topics Professor Michael Sweeney, a leading expert on censorship of war-time news coverage, researches and lectures about every day.
“What excites me is finding something no one else knows, something important,” said Sweeney, the editor of the journal Journalism History.
Sweeney developed a love of research as a child reading non-fiction works about world events, focusing on wars. He fine-tuned his specialty while earning a Ph.D. of journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in 1996, where his dissertation “Byron Price and the Office of Censorship’s Press and Broadcasting Divisions in World War II” expanded his interest in censorship and the media.
Professor Sweeney is a veteran newspaper journalist, an experienced media source, and a book author, whose titles include Complete Guide to Brain Health (National Geographic Press, 2013) and Titanic: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Greatest Shipwreck (National Geographic, 2012).
His many academic articles about wartime journalism include studies of World War I, World War II, and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, which gave birth to many of the military and government methods of controlling the press in war zones. These methods included strict accreditation rules, battlefield liaisons (“minders”) to restrict access, word-count limits on dispatches, and pool reporting. Dr. Sweeney also co-authored, with Dr. Patrick S. Washburn, an award-winning monograph about the U.S. government’s attempt to prosecute the Chicago Tribune during World War II for what the Justice Department alleged was a violation of the Espionage Act.
See examples of Sweeney as a media source:
- RadioLab, “Fu-Go,” March 9, 2015 http://www.radiolab.org/story/fu-go/
- Washington Post, “Into the Fog: When the Weather Was a Secret” http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2010/09/when_the_weather_was_a_secret.html
- MSNBC.com and Today.com, “Far out! Peace symbol turns 50” http://www.today.com/id/23677930/ns/today-today_books/t/far-out-peace-symbol-turns/#.ViqRyX6rSUk
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