I'm trying to figure out when news specifically started mentioning women and children were killed when reporting fatalities.

Does anyone have any reference or idea when this differentiation happened - and even more important, what was the context of this emphasis?

My five cents. Personally my thought process started at

  • when classical armies were facing each other (mostly) men died

just to go further and further back in time to find a war where this was true.

Operation Enduring Freedom (2001, War in Afghanistan)
War in Vietnam
War in Korea
Roman something..

For me my personal feelings there's a secession which happens around WW1, more into the direction of 'only soldiers died in war' - but I cannot assess whether my feeling has some truth to it. Also I suspect some context that nobody can remember (picturing for example the war in Vietnam but I'm not limiting it to that).

It does remind me of the idiom '10 people died, 3 of them were (replace with your nationality)'. This one I understand where it's coming from - speaking to the local people and framing it because you're writing in a specific language to start with. I'm struggeling to find the motivation behind the separation in fatalities.

  • 5
    History Stack questions should document preliminary research like most stack exchange sites. Please revise your question to document your preliminary research. How to write a good question may help.
    – MCW
    Jun 2, 2021 at 20:38
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    Would biblical reports count as (written) media ?
    – Lucian
    Jun 3, 2021 at 4:48
  • Usually I wouldn't consider the bible as legit reference but as this is more of a cultural question, I might still be valid
    – nykon
    Jun 3, 2021 at 9:31
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    A bit off topic maybe, but I have seen reports more recently of 'killed versus died' being used by news agencies, possibly as a means of propaganda favoring one side over the other. To be precise, it was shown in a report concerning the recent Israel/Palestine conflict where American news outlets reported Israeli casualties as "killed" and Palestinian casualties as "died".
    – Samid
    Jun 3, 2021 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


From the Gallic Wars, written by Julius Caesar:

A part was then slain by the infantry when they were crowding upon one another in the narrow passage of the gates; and a part having got without the gates, were cut to pieces by the cavalry: nor was there one who was anxious for the plunder. Thus, being excited by the massacre at Genabum and the fatigue of the siege, they spared neither those worn out with years, women, or children.

A case could be made that Caesar's work was the first instance of "news" in that it was a detailed written firsthand account produced close in time to events in question, and I know of nothing similar produced earlier. So the answer is that the "news" started reporting such things as long as the "news" has existed, as it's always been a part of warfare.

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    That's beautifully accurate, thank you a lot!
    – nykon
    Jun 3, 2021 at 7:55
  • Caesar's work was the first instance of "news" in that it was a detailed written firsthand account produced close in time to events in question, and I know of nothing similar produced earlier - Would Cleitarchus' History of Alexander not count because it wasn't written by Alexander himself, or because it is mostly lost, or because it is irrelevant to the question, or another reason altogether ?
    – Lucian
    Aug 18, 2021 at 19:19
  • To be honest, I simply was not aware of it. I can't really judge Aug 18, 2021 at 19:34

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