This is a study of the British state's generation, suppression and
manipulation of news to further foreign policy goals during the
early Cold War. Bribing editors, blackballing "unreliable"
journalists, creating instant media experts through provision of
carefully edited "inside information," and exploiting the global
media system to plant propaganda -- disguised as news -- around the
world: these were all methods used by the British to try to
convince the international public of Soviet deceit and criminality
and thus gain support for anti-Soviet policies at home and abroad.
Britain's shaky international position heightened the importance
of propaganda. The Soviets and Americans were investing heavily in
propaganda to win the "hearts and minds" of the world and
substitute for increasingly unthinkable nuclear war. The British
exploited and enhanced their media power and propaganda expertise
to keep up with the superpowers and preserve their own global
influence at a time when British economic, political and military
power was sharply declining. This activity directly influenced
domestic media relations, as officials used British media to
launder foreign-bound propaganda and to create the desired images
of British "public opinion" for foreign audiences.
By the early 1950s censorship waned but covert propaganda had
become addictive. The endless tension of the Cold War normalized
what had previously been abnormal state involvement in the media,
and led it to use similar tools against Egyptian nationalists,
Irish republicans and British leftists. Much more recently,
official manipulation of news about Iraq indicates that a
behind-the-scenes examination of state propaganda's earlierdays is
John Jenks draws heavily on recently declassified archival
material for this book, especially files of the Foreign Office's
anti-Communist Information Research Department (IRD) propaganda
agency, and the papers of key media organisations, journalists,
politicians and officials. Readers will therefore gain a greater
understanding of the depth of the state's power with the media at a
time when concerns about propaganda and media manipulation are once
again at the fore.
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