Why Nicaragua Vanished: A Story of Reporters and Revolutionaries
WHY NICARAGUA VANISHED: A STORY OF REPORTERS AND REVOLUTIONARIES By Robert S. Leiken Rowman & Littlefield 291 pp. $75; $27.95 paper Robert S. Leiken, currently a scholar at the Nixon Center in Washington, compares his study to the classic “A Test of the News,” by Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, written in 1920, on the disastrously wrong reporting in The New York Times of the 1917 Russian revolution. However, Leiken’s pivotal allegation – that the American press failed to anticipate the defeat of the Sandinistas in the 1990 Nicaraguan elections – is now thirteen years in the past and much less epochal. He has no trouble, of course, establishing that the American press blew it; correspondents and American-based polls picked the leftists to win in a landslide. He lays part of the blame on misuse of polls, part on meddling academics, part on the failure of correspondents to report from the field. But he lays the greatest blame on a “system of stereotypes,” a “post-Vietnam paradigm,” a shift in culture that infected liberal journalists, permitting them to ignore what was really happening. The book is highly detailed, and often persuasive, but would be more so if it were more frank in describing the author’s own active role in the debates over Nicaragua.
Copyright Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism Sep/Oct 2003
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