Thursday, August 04, 2011

The legacy of Alistair Cooke

In the run up to the Second World War anti-American sentiment in Europe, and particularly in Britain, was rife. Recently it has been stated that ‘anti-American feeling had been the Establishment’s secret vice’ (A Marr, A History of Modern Britain, 2007, 9). It is also fair to say that this sentiment was the commonly held opinion of the majority of ordinary Britons. There was a desperate need for someone to bridge the cultural and political fissure between the United Kingdom and the United States of America—someone who could embody both perspectives.

The person who was well equipped to act as moderator between the UK and the USA was the broadcaster and writer Alistair Cooke. At a distressing time in British history Cooke was able to help the British people to understand the benefits of what Winston Churchill described in 1946 as Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the USA. Cooke’s legacy in modern times is twofold. Firstly, he can be credited with effectively opening up post-war America to the average Briton. He ensured that the two countries better understood one another by providing a common journalistic link. Secondly, his brilliance and longevity as a journalist brought an innovative approach to radio broadcasting through which he endeavoured to promote knowledge, and a sense of the potential, of the post-war world. He also pioneered a groundbreaking television broadcasting technique which is still mirrored in contemporary reporting and journalism.

(taken from an essay by Alex Forzani -- for the complete essay click on the heading above.)

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