Soviet and Russian Press Coverage of the United States: Press, Politics and Identity in Transition

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Soviet and Russian Press Coverage of the United States: Press, Politics and Identity in Transition. Jonathan A. Becker. New York & London: St. Martin's Press, Inc. & Macmillian Press Ltd., 1999. 233 pp. $72 hbk.

Perhaps the Soviet press's most surprising portrayals of America were ones that misrepresented American aspects of life in a positive fashion, such as emphasizing an increase in U.S. government minority employees while downplaying the government's overall serious lack of minority representation and claiming that New York Metropolitan concert tickets were cheaper than their Bolshoi counterparts.

In Soviet and Russian Press Coverage of the United States, Jonathan A. Becker, a professor who spent five years teaching and conducting research in Eastern Europe, answers this intriguing question, among many others, in a provocative analysis of Soviet and Russian press coverage of America before, during, and after the Cold War's collapse.

Becker explains that especially enthusiastic, positive portrayals of American life represent a late Gorbachev-era, transitional press stage. Over time, American images often experienced a dramatic pendulum swing from old-fashioned, Cold War "demonic" to transitional "overly positive" to post-Cold War middle-of-the-road.

Becker argues that while "demonic" press coverage was driven by negative Cold War Soviet attitudes toward its number one "capitalist enemy," late Gorbachev-era press coverage was driven by just the opposite: an overly enthusiastic Soviet/Russian reception to U.S. capitalism and an attempt to mimic its success. As for relatively balanced post-Cold War Russian coverage, it was largely driven by a journalistic desire to report in a more independent, newsworthy fashion.

This study examines more than ten years of Soviet and Russian press images of American life from 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev became the Communist Party's General Secretary, through 1996, when Boris Yeltsin was re-elected president. …

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