Soviet dissidents and the American press: a reply

Amalrik, Andrei
March 1978
Columbia Journalism Review;Mar/Apr1978, Vol. 16 Issue 6, p63
The article refutes the propositions set forth by Peter Osnos in his article, Soviet Dissidents and the American Press, published in the November/December 1977 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review. Roughly, Osnos sets forth two propositions: first, that the dissidents owe their prominence and influence to the Western mass media, which exaggerate their importance, and second, that Western correspondents because of their associations with dissidents present a distorted and simplified picture of Soviet life. Mass media make a person and a movement prominent, and prominence in turn increases the chances for influence. If journalists were to agree among themselves not to write or say a word about a president, for instance, then despite all levers of influence at his command or the most dramatic gestures, he would turn into something of a non-existent figure. There is much evidence to show that for a long time the Western press ignored rather than exaggerated instances of dissent in the soviet Union. From 1962 to 1965 a number of people were arrested for their political or artistic nonconformity, and although foreign correspondents were aware of these case, they wrote nothing about them because the arrests of little-known personalities were not considered an event.


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