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An Inside Look at LIFE Magazine: Part 1

Erik Sofranko

Posted on May 5, 2021 16:58

1 user

LIFE Magazine was able to provide a unique view of World War II that other forms of media could not.

During the early 1940s, World War II became the center focus of attention for American news. This was a time before television could give the audience a live, visual representation news, so people relied on newspapers and radio for coverage.

As these two forms of media took the charge when it came to reporting the up-to-date news about the war to the American people, they were rarely able to fully capture the human element of the war and give the audience an inside look at what the soldiers endured.

Magazines, however, were an alternative form of news media that could bring the war to life for their readers through illustrated stories. One American magazine that was particularly known for this was LIFE Magazine.

As American culture began to shift after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, LIFE Magazine shifted its focus of covering the war from the perspective of outsiders, and later as participants, as the U.S. entered the war. The magazine’s cover photos became patriotic and would feature the American flag and soldiers on most of its issues. Advertisements would encourage the buying of war bonds -- A July 1944 cover of the magazine, for example, featured two American soldiers walking together with their arms over each other’s shoulders, and a “buy war bonds” blip on the lower left corner of the page.

Sometimes, LIFE would feature men in uniform selling products, such as illustrations of soldiers conversing with each other and smoking Camel cigarettes. 

The magazine published many feature stories involving the war, and much of their coverage was about events that had occurred much prior to the release of the issue.

Some issues would feature detailed accounts of important battles that took place during the war, and by the time they were published, the battles were no longer timely news stories. For example, on a January 1945 issue, the magazine featured a diagrammed account of The Battle of the Bulge. The cover featured a photo of General Patton smiling and looking into the distance.

There were several photos that showed the soldiers in action, which helped bring the war to life. The magazine would also include many photos of the soldiers not in battle.

It is interesting that LIFE magazine was able to seemingly provide coverage of the war from different angles, including close-up coverage of the battles as well as soldiers having fun playing games such as football.

It seemed to be the right kind of medium for the American people to acquire a deeper knowledge of the realities of the war and the lives of the soldiers. It was not meant to serve as a platform that could provide the latest details on the progress of the war but rather present an opportunity for readers to gain new perspectives on the war.

Erik Sofranko

Posted on May 5, 2021 16:58

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Source: N4G

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