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Striving to realise the European idea : judging the news media’s accounts of how the Berlin Wall gave impetus to a new order across Europe

Duffield, Lee Richard (2010) Striving to realise the European idea : judging the news media’s accounts of how the Berlin Wall gave impetus to a new order across Europe. Ejournalist, 10(2), pp. 84-105.

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Abstract

The 1990 European Community was taken by surprise, by the urgency of demands from the newly-elected Eastern European governments to become member countries. Those governments were honouring the mass social movement of the streets, the year before, demanding free elections and a liberal economic system associated with “Europe”. The mass movement had actually been accompanied by much activity within institutional politics, in Western Europe, the former “satellite” states, the Soviet Union and the United States, to set up new structures – with German reunification and an expanded EC as the centre-piece.

This paper draws on the writer’s doctoral dissertation on mass media in the collapse of the Eastern bloc, focused on the Berlin Wall – documenting both public protests and institutional negotiations. For example the writer as a correspondent in Europe from that time, recounts interventions of the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, at a European summit in Paris nine days after the “Wall”, and separate negotiations with the French President, Francois Mitterrand -- on the reunification, and EU monetary union after 1992. Through such processes, the “European idea” would receive fresh impetus, though the EU which eventuated, came with many altered expectations. It is argued here that as a result of the shock of 1989, a “social” Europe can be seen emerging, as a shared experience of daily life -- especially among people born during the last two decades of European consolidation.

The paper draws on the author’s major research, in four parts: (1) Field observation from the strategic vantage point of a news correspondent. This includes a treatment of evidence at the time, of the wishes and intentions of the mass public (including the unexpected drive to join the European Community), and those of governments, (e.g. thoughts of a “Tienanmen Square solution” in East Berlin, versus the non-intervention policies of the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev). (2) A review of coverage of the crisis of 1989 by major news media outlets, treated as a history of the process. (3) As a comparison, and a test of accuracy and analysis; a review of conventional histories of the crisis appearing a decade later.(4) A further review, and test, provided by journalists responsible for the coverage of the time, as reflection on practice – obtained from semi-structured interviews.

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ID Code: 39240
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Berlin Wall, Journalism, Media, European Union, Communism
ISSN: 1444-741X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > JOURNALISM AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING (190300) > Journalism Studies (190301)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Lee Duffield and Central Queensland University.
Deposited On: 17 Dec 2010 10:25
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 00:27

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