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Images of the US during the Cold War: media discourse in the UK 1956-1986

posted on 2023-08-30, 13:47 authored by Tunde Formadi
This thesis explores how the local media in East Anglia portrayed the US military presence during the Cold War at times of international crisis. It aims to assess this portrayal in comparison with national media images and critically interrogates the socio-political, economic and cultural reasons for it. This media related study contributes to Cold War historiography and the historiography of the USAF. Research was mainly archival, based on discourse analysis and comparative focusing on the official discourse of the Cold War and the news media. Central to the research were the written records of the British government and articles in appropriate newspapers issued near American airbases. The region of East Anglia was selected for its strategic location and large number of military bases, and data collection focused on selected periods of international crisis due to their impact on media coverage. The examination of newspaper articles identified a wide range of images with some recurring from time to time while others remain specific to certain periods. Findings suggest that local economic as well as political interests played a role in shaping the images of the US presence in the local media, and it could be argued that there is a correlation between the conservative landscape of the region and the newspaper articles’ overwhelming tolerance or at least acceptance of the US presence, which is in line with conservative governmental discourse in all periods of crisis explored. However, the articles – and in particular the readers’ letters to the editors – also highlight that there were strong debates between supporters and opponents of the American presence, and this debate blurs the boundaries of political parties, i.e. in certain periods there are also strong opponents in the conservative camp.



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