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Anniversary Coverage of Tiananmen and the Berlin Wall in UK and U.S. Press, 1990-2013

Sun, May 24, 9:00 to 10:15, Caribe Hilton, Maguey


Previous literature suggests that anniversary journalism fixates on the nation-state as the sole source for articulation of authentic collective memories. This study investigates UK and US anniversary coverage of two key global events—the fall of Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen crackdown—as reported by prominent US and UK newspapers from 1990 to 2013, combining computerized network-based text analysis and critical discourse analysis. Findings suggest that their changing representations of these formative events have become central political-cultural symbols facilitating the emergence of a memory transcending national boundaries. Though their coverage is found to be increasingly subjected to common rhythms and periodizations, this study also testifies to the continued impact of the geopolitical priorities of elite-driven domestic opinions. Results indicate the US press is more thematic, focusing coherently on anti-communism and the US's global leadership, while the UK press is more episodic, focusing on regional integration and specific national interests.