Soviet and American Reporters on the Ideological Frontlines
Foreign correspondents played a crucial role in promoting the ideas and values of the Cold War. As they brought the foreign world to their Soviet and American readers, these journalists projected their own ideologies onto their reporting.
COMING OUT 2021 on Johns Hopkins University Press
About the book
In an age of mutual acrimony and closed borders, journalists were among the few individuals who crossed the Iron Curtain. Their reporting strongly influenced the ways that policy makers, pundits, and ordinary people came to understand the American or the Soviet “other.” In Cold War Correspondents, Dina Fainberg examines how Soviet and American journalists covered the rival superpower and how two distinctive sets of truth systems, professional practices, and political cultures shaped international reporting.
Fainberg explores private and public interactions among multiple groups that shaped coverage of the Cold War adversary, including journalists and their sources, editors, news media executives, government officials, diplomats, American pundits, Soviet censors, and audiences on both sides. Foreign correspondents, Fainberg argues, were keen analytical observers who aspired to understand their host country and probe its depths. At the same time, they were fundamentally shaped by their cultural and institutional backgrounds—to the point that their views of the rival superpower were refracted through values of their own culture. International reporting grounded and personalized the differences between the two nations, describing the other side in readily recognizable, self-referential terms.
Fundamentally, Fainberg demonstrates, Americans and Soviets during the Cold War came to understand themselves through the creation of images of each other. Drawing on interviews with veteran journalists and Soviet dissidents, Cold War Correspondents also uses previously unexamined Soviet and US government records, newspaper and news agency archives, rare Soviet cartoons, and individual correspondents’ personal papers, letters, diaries, books, and articles. Striking black-and-white photos depict foreign correspondents in action. Taken together, these sources illuminate a rich history of private and professional lives at the heart of the superpower conflict.
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This book is a joy to read; it’s so good that I found myself reading it slowly, with care. Incredibly well researched and beautifully written, it constructs a compelling argument that will make a significant contribution to the scholarship on Cold War history, media history, and present debates about the origins of the ‘post-truth’ universe that we inhabit today.
The first book to look closely at how the Soviet Union and the United States talked about each other in the mainstream press for the duration of the Cold War, this truly transnational volume draws on innovative sources to reveal how ideology played a critical role in shaping correspondents’ international reporting.Margaret Peacock, University of Alabama, author of Innocent Weapons: The Soviet and American Politics of Childhood in the Cold War
This ambitious, innovative book reveals the inner mechanisms of ideology as well as propagandistic constructions on both sides of the ideological ‘frontlines’ between East and West. Dina Fainberg provides a fresh new angle on the topic; her conclusions are well elaborated, thought out, and very convincing.Alena Marková, Charles University, Prague, author of Šliach da savieckaj nacyji. Nacyjanaĺnaja palityka bielarusizacyji, 1924–1929