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How We Know What We Know about Pakistan: New York Times news production, 1954–71

  • YELENA BIBERMAN (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This article explores public knowledge creation by examining how the New York Times produced Pakistan news between 1954 and 1971, the formative period of United States of America (USA)–Pakistan relations. These years encapsulate not only the heyday of cooperation between the two governments, but also the American public's first major introduction to the South Asian country by the increasingly intrepid news media. A leader in shaping that introduction was the New York Times. While most studies of the American media focus on measuring the effect of news exposure and content on public opinion, this article focuses on the theoretically underexplored aspect of news production: foreign news gathering. With a lens on South Asia, it shows that foreign news gathering involves the straddling of on-the-ground political and logistical constraints that generate an atmosphere of high uncertainty. By exploring the limitations on news gathering faced by America's leading newspaper's foreign correspondents in Pakistan in the 1950s and 1960s, this article identifies an important historical source of the ambiguity characterizing USA–Pakistan relations. The findings are based on recently released archival material that offers rare insight into the news-production process.

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1 S. Islam, ‘View from abroad: deeply flawed US–Pakistan relations’, Dawn, 9 May 2014, http://www.dawn.com/news/1105364/view-from-abroad-deeply-flawed-us-pakistan-relations, [accessed 1 September 2017].

2 Markey D. S., No Exit from Pakistan: America's Tortured Relationship with Islamabad, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2013, p. 1 .

3 Haqqani H., Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding, Public Affairs, New York, 2013 .

4 Author's interview with Zafar Jaspal (Director, Quaid-i-Azam University School of Politics and International Relations), Islamabad, Pakistan, 25 December 2014.

5 Haqqani, Magnificent Delusions.

6 Johanson G., ‘Information, knowledge and research’, Journal of Information Science, vol. 23, no. 2, 1997, pp. 103–9.

7 Patterson T. E., Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism, Vintage Books, New York, 2013, p. 8 .

8 Stephens M., Beyond News: The Future of Journalism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2014, p. xxvi .

9 Levendusky M., How Partisan Media Polarize America, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2013 ; Iyengar S., Media Politics: A Citizen's Guide, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 2011 ; Stroud N. J., Niche News: The Politics of News Choice, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011 ; Mutz D. C. and Reeves B., ‘The new videomalaise: effects of televised incivility on political trust’, American Political Science Review, vol. 99, no. 1, February 2005, pp. 115 ; for an overview of the less recent literature, see Arceneaux K. and Johnson M., Changing Minds or Changing Channels? Partisan News in an Age of Choice, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2013, pp. 1629 . For a recent study of Pakistani media, see Biberman Y., Gul S., and Ocakli F., ‘Channeling Islam: religious narratives on Pakistani television and their influence on Pakistani youth’, Asian Affairs: An American Review, vo. 43, no. 3, 2016, pp. 7897 .

10 Cloud B., The Business of Newspapers on the Western Frontier, University of Nevada Press, Reno, 1992 ; Baldasty G. J., E.W. Scripps and the Business of Newspapers, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1999 ; Bakker P., ‘Free daily newspapers—business models and strategies’, International Journal on Media Management, vol. 4, no. 3, 2002, pp. 180–7; Mings S. M. and White P. B., ‘Profiting from online news: the search for viable business models’, in Internet Publishing and Beyond: The Economics of Digital Information and Intellectual Property, Kahin B. and Varian H. R. (eds), MIT Press, Cambridge, 2000, pp. 6296 ; Herbert J. and Thurman N., ‘Paid content strategies for news websites: an empirical study of british newspapers’ online business models’, Journalism Practice, vol. 1, no. 2, 2007, pp. 208–26.

11 Schudson M., Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers, Basic Books, New York, 1978, pp. 22–3.

12 Talese G., The Kingdom and the Power, New American Library, New York, 1969, p. 72 .

13 Schudson, Discovering the News, p. 7.

14 Ibid.

15 Hallin D. C., The ‘Uncensored War’: The Media and Vietnam, Oxford University Press, New York, 1986, p. 7 .

16 Sigal L. V., Reporters and Officials: The Organization and Politics of Newsmaking, D.C. Heath and Company, Lexington, 1973, p. 3 .

17 Berkowitz D., Social Meanings of News, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1997, p. xii .

18 Mayer M., Making News, Doubleday and Company, Garden City, NY, 1987, p. 20 .

19 Cohen B. C., The Press and Foreign Policy, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1963, p. 54 .

20 Schudson, Discovering the News, p. 16, emphasis in original.

21 Hallin, The ‘Uncensored War’, p. 8.

22 Schultz J., Reviving the Fourth Estate: Democracy, Accountability and the Media, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998, p. 48 .

23 Lippmann W., Liberty and the News, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2008 [1920], p. 6 .

24 Hallin, The ‘Uncensored War’, p. 117.

25 My goal is not to account for variation in news-gathering outcomes, but rather to explicate the main mechanisms driving the process. The mechanisms certainly influence the outcomes, but they do not determine them. The causes, or ‘independent variables’, of news-gathering outcomes are typically the ‘news-worthy’ events themselves. The institutionalist and constructivist approaches tackle the question of why some events are deemed news-worthy and how their transmission influences public opinion, but they do not theoretically illuminate how the ostensibly news-worthy events actually become (or fail to become) the news. The latter is the goal of this article.

26 J. Nevard, ‘As others see us: “wretched” Karachi’, New York Times, 24 November 1963, in New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 5, ‘Jacques Nevard—Foreign Desk—1964’.

27 Letter from Emanuel R. Freedman to Jacques Nevard, 21 November 1963, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 4, ‘Jacques Nevard—Foreign Desk—1959–1960’.

28 Letter from Emanuel R. Freedman to Dan Harrison, 16 March 1964, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 125, Folder 1, ‘Editorial Policy International News—1952–1978’.

29 Nawaz S., Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008, p. 94 .

30 These data were attained through ProQuest. For Figure 2, the search focused on USA national newspapers and the document type was centred on articles, front-page/cover stories, and news. For the New York Times search (Figure 3), the above criteria applied and the search centred on the ProQuest Historical Newspapers: New York Times with Index database.

31 At the same time, India's neutralism and unwillingness to engage in the Cold War frustrated USA officials.

32 Nawaz, Crossed Swords, p. 112.

33 Letter from Michael James to Turner Catledge, 1 July 1952, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 54, Folder 8, ‘James, Michael: Foreign Desk, 1951–1958’.

34 Memorandum for McCraw, Bernstein, and Jordan from Emanuel R. Freedman, 7 November 1952, Box 54, Folder 8, ‘James, Michael: Foreign Desk, 1951–1958’.

35 Memorandum from Nathaniel M. Gerstenzang for Emanuel R. Freedman, 20 June 1956, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 125, Folder 2, ‘Editorial Policy International News—1952–1978’.

36 Letter from Emanuel R. Freedman to Abe M. Rosenthal, 28 December 1955, Box 79, Folder 2, ‘Rosenthal, Abe M.: Foreign Desk, 1956’.

37 Talese, The Kingdom and the Power, p. 119.

38 Personal letter from Abe M. Rosenthal to Emanuel R. Freedman, 4 January 1956, Box 79, Folder 2, ‘Rosenthal, Abe M.: Foreign Desk, 1956’.

39 Rosenthal's remarks are supported by the quality of his reporting. For example, in ‘Pakistan faces threat to unity’ (14 April 1957), the correspondent bases his observations on a wide range of voices—from political leaders to ordinary citizens.

40 Personal letter from Abe M. Rosenthal to Emanuel R. Freedman, 4 January 1956.

41 Beg M. F. H., ‘Mistrust in the American Pakistan alliance’, unused manuscript, 15 April 1963, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 146, Folder 2, ‘Pakistan Stringers, Foreign Desk, 1953–1962’.

42 Letter from Jacques Nevard to Emanuel R. Freedman, 2 October 1963, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 4, ‘Jacques Nevard—Foreign Desk—1959–1960’.

43 Ibid.

44 New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 5, ‘Nevard, Jacques: Foreign Desk, 1964’.

45 Letter from Nevard to Freedman, 2 October 1963.

46 Letter from Joseph Lelyveld to Seymour Topping, 21 July 1967, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 61, Folder 2, ‘Lelyveld, Joseph, Foreign Desk, 1967’.

47 Beg, ‘Mistrust in the American Pakistan alliance’.

48 At the time, the second India–Pakistan war was only two years away.

49 Cohen, The Press and Foreign Policy, p. 97.

50 Talese, The Kingdom and the Power, p. 119.

51 Letter from Emanuel R. Freedman to Jacques Nevard, 23 October 1963, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 4, ‘Jacques Nevard—Foreign Desk—1959–1960’.

52 Letter from Emanuel R. Freedman to William Jorden, 11 February 1957, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 125, Folder 2, ‘Editorial Policy International News—1952–1978’.

53 Letter from Clifton Daniel to Jacques Nevard, 1967, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 1, ‘Jacques Nevard—Foreign Desk—1959–1960’.

54 Letter from Clifton Daniel to Juan de Onis, 8 November 1963, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 125, Folder 1, ‘Editorial Policy International News—1952–1978’.

55 Nevard, ‘As others see us’.

56 Letter from Albert E. French (President of State University of New York Agricultural and Technical University) to Editor of the New York Times, 15 December 1963, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 4, ‘Nevard, Jacques: Foreign Desk, 1959–1960’.

57 Letter from Camille Mirepoix to A.M. Rosenthal, 4 May 1964, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 5, ‘Nevard, Jacques: Foreign Desk, 1964’.

58 Letter from A.M. Rosenthal to Camille Mirepoix, 8 May 1964, ‘Nevard, Jacques: Foreign Desk, 1964’.

59 Letter from Jacques M. Nevard to Emmanuel R. Freedman, 29 September 1964, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 5, ‘Nevard, Jacques: Foreign Desk, 1964’.

60 Letter from Nevard to Freedman, 2 October 1963.

61 ‘Foreign News Coverage’, 26 February 1965, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 125, Folder 1, ‘Editorial Policy International News—1952–1978’.

62 Letter from Jacques M. Nevard to Emmanuel R. Freedman, 29 September 1964.

63 Ibid.

64 Ibid.

65 Letter from Nevard to Freedman, 2 October 1963.

66 Letter from Nevard to Freedman, 19 July 1964, New York Times Company Records: Foreign Desk Records, 1948–1993, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Box 70, Folder 5, ‘Nevard, Jacques: Foreign Desk, 1964’.

67 Ibid.

68 Musa M., My Version: India–Pakistan War, 1965, Wajidalis, Lahore, 1983, pp. 45 .

69 Letter from Seymour Topping to Joseph Lelyveld, 31 March 1967, Box 61, Folder 2, ‘Lelyveld, Joseph, Foreign Desk, 1967’.

70 Topping S., On the Front Lines of the Cold War: An American Correspondent's Journal from the Chinese Civil War to the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA, 2010, p. 318 .

71 Ibid., pp. 319–20.

72 Ibid., p. 321.

73 Letter from Seymour Topping to Joseph Lelyveld, 31 March 1967.

74 Ibid.

75 Ibid.

76 Letter from Joseph Lelyveld to Seymour Topping, 1967, Box 61, Folder 1, ‘Joseph Lelyveld—Foreign Desk—1962–1966’.

77 Letter from Joseph Lelyveld to Seymour Topping, 21 July 1967.

78 Ibid.

79 Ibid.

80 Letter from Seymour Topping to Joseph Lelyveld, 2 August 1967, Box 61, Folder 2, ‘Lelyveld, Joseph, Foreign Desk, 1967’.

81 Letter from Joseph Lelyveld to Seymour Topping, 7 December 1968, Box 61, Folder 3, ‘Lelyveld, Joseph, Foreign Desk, 1968’.

82 Letter from Joseph Lelyveld to Seymour Topping, 3 March 1969, Box 61, Folder 3, ‘Lelyveld, Joseph, Foreign Desk, 1968’.

83 Memorandum for James Greenfield from Seymour Topping, Box 134, Folder 10, ‘Karachi, Pakistan Bureau, 1953–1965’.

84 Letter from Malcolm W. Browne to James Greenfield, 15 May 1971, Box 13, Folder 4, ‘Browne, Malcolm W., Foreign Desk, 1971’.

85 Ibid.

86 Letter from Malcolm W. Browne to James Greenfield, 28 June 1971, Box 13, Folder 4, ‘Browne, Malcolm W., Foreign Desk, 1971’.

87 Letter from James Greenfield to Malcolm W. Browne, 29 June 1971, Box 13, Folder 4, ‘Browne, Malcolm W., Foreign Desk, 1971’.

88 Letter from Malcolm W. Browne to Foreign Desk (Cathy), 28 September 1971, Box 13, Folder 4, ‘Browne, Malcolm W., Foreign Desk, 1971’.

89 Ibid.

90 Letter from Malcolm W. Browne to James Greenfield, 14 November 1971, Box 13, Folder 4, ‘Browne, Malcolm W., Foreign Desk, 1971’.

91 Ibid.

92 Ibid.

93 Ibid.

94 Browne M. W., The New Face of War, Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, 1965 .

95 Anderson J. with Clifford G., The Anderson Papers, Random House, New York, 1973 .

96 National Security Council, Notes, Anderson Papers Material, 6 January 1972, NPMP, NSC Files, Country Files: Middle East, Box 643; ‘The tilt: the U.S. and the South Asian crisis of 1971’, in National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book Reviews, S. Gandhi (ed.), No. 79, 16 December 2002.

97 Kissinger H., White House Years, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1979, p. 842 .

98 Blood A. K., The Cruel Birth of Bangladesh: Memoirs of an American Diplomat, University Press Limited, Dhaka, 2006, pp. 213–16.

99 Kissinger, White House Years, p. 855.

100 Nixon R., The Memories of Richard Nixon, Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 1978, p. 526 .

101 Pew Research Center, ‘How Asians view each other’, 14 July 2014, http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/chapter-4-how-asians-view-each-other/, [accessed 1 September 2017].

102 B. Shah, ‘A “homeland” we Pakistanis don't recognize’, New York Times, 15 October 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/opinion/bina-shah-a-homeland-we-pakistanis-dont-recognize.html?_r=0, [accessed 1 September 2017].

* I would like to thank Thomas Lannon at the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library and Trevor Cloen for their assistance, as well as Ron Seyb and the participants of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies Junior Scholars Conference for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. My archival research was made possible by the New York Public Library Short-Term Research Fellowship, and my fieldwork was supported by the Atlantic Council US–Pakistan Exchange Fellowship. I would also like to thank the editors and reviewers of Modern Asian Studies for their helpful comments and critiques.

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