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War, Peace and the Media

Zwicker, Barrie

Publisher:  Sources, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  1985   First Published:  1983
Pages:  48pp   Price:  $4   ISBN:  0-920299-01-6

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The author looked at press coverage of the Soviet Union over a six-month period and found it extreme and unbalanced. He concludes that "our portrayal of the Soviet Union dooms ourselves" by creating a stereotype of a country that is the embodiment of everything evil, with which it is impossible to have civilized dealings or to conclude rational agreements, notably on arms control. The result of the press coverage is to push people to the conclusion that the only way to deal with the USSR is to engage in an arms race that can only result in eventual war. He argues that it is in the interest of everyone, East and West, that there be far better, multi-dimensional reporting on the Soviet Union, reporting that deals with the lives of ordinary people, with culture, arts, science, travel, etc. "Implacable opponents of the Soviet Union and warm admirers of the USSR alike should equally be demanding better press coverage of that country. Whether the motive is to know the enemy better, or to build bridges of friendship - or anything between - the coverage provided by the press in Canada falls ludicrously short of short of serving you # Instead of anything approaching an informative, rounded, realistic picture of a country the papers themselves claim is so important, the public is being mistreated to hodge podge of distorting trivia, boring stereotypes, and transparent bias parading as news # There is virtually no human face, but a dehumanized ideological abstraction."

Zwicker feels that press coverage of the USSR is "profoundly uninformative, a journalistic yawn that is helping us sleepwalk toward the biggest slumber of all time: nuclear war."

The pamphlet also takes up a number of specific issues regarding the press coverage of the Soviet Union, including responsibility for the arms race, coverage of civil defence, media blackouts of protests against the MX missile system, and coverage of peace organizations.

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