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The Greeks: war reporting and word of mouth

Posted by: | October 15, 2012 | No Comment |

In history, crime and war reporting were, and still are, the most popular topics to report on. News consumers eat up these types of stories. They are filled with scandal, action and tragedy.

The first instance of war reporting can be attributed to the Greeks, which can also be attributed to the making of popular films like Troy and 300. Something I am sure we have all seen either for our appreciation of Greek history, or Spartan men with amazing abs.

Photo from the film 300

In 1200 B.C., an account of a Greek battle with Troy was documented in the Homeric epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey, making it the first report on war in journalistic history. This was followed by other war reports using different methods of journalism.

Word of mouth was often used early on by the Greeks as a means to spread word of victory or defeat. In 490 B.C., an Athenian messenger named Pheidippides runs from Marathon to Athens with word of victory in the turning back of a Persian invasion. He then died of exhaustion, but was able to successfully relay the news.

Another instance of word of mouth in Greek history is when the Greek philosopher Socrates returned from one of the initial battles of the Peloponnesian War and delivers news in a gymnasium in Athens. The orator Demosthenes later notes the extent to which Athenians are preoccupied with word of mouth stating “Thus we all go about framing our several tales”.

Alexander the Great
In 334 B.C., Alexander the Great spreads news as well. He sends 300 captured Persian shields to Athens to spread news of his victory over the Persians.

The Greeks contributions to the history of journalism played a pivotal role in the start of war reporting as well as word of mouth. In today’s world war reporting is an especially popular topic with wars in the Middle East constantly occupying news stories. Without these journalistic records we would not have all the facts today or such entertaining “historically accurate” films.

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