Letter: Media aid for Serbs

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Sir: I am concerned that the press and broadcasting media are giving aid and comfort to the Serb enemy in the present war. I imagine this is not intended, but the fact that Serb propaganda reaches us so constantly via correspondents in Belgrade and elsewhere reflects, I believe, an inability on the part of the media to understand the necessary change of gear they must make in a shooting war.

It is a great strength in our country and other democracies normally to listen to all points of view in matters of contention. But in war, stricter rules must apply. Decisions have been made, whether the media like or not, to commit men to battle. Everything possible should be done to support the men at war and every means used to avoid undermining the morale of those in battle and those "who only stand and wait". The media need to descend a little from their Olympian heights of detachment.

In the 1939-45 war, Defence of the Realm Acts prevented the publication of news tending to aid and support Hitler. If such measures had not been taken, public morale would have been sapped over the six years of the conflict, as it was sapped in America in the Vietnam War. The media now should learn the lesson, as the present war and its aftermath drag on through the years - yes, years - that they have a vital part to play if we and our Nato allies are to come out of it successfully.

DENYS WHATMORE

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

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