The Image of a Country created by International Media: The Case of Bulgaria
When the East set off to join the West in a common Europe, its economic and political oddities became increasingly visible in the rapprochement. So what does the West make of the East? How does ex-communist Europe come across through the lens of the Western media? This book presents research conducted on all material concerning Bulgaria on the BBC website over a period of five years: starting with the early years of EU accession in 2007, up to the hysteria regarding a wave of Bulgarian immigrants to the UK in 2012. Three types of methodologies are applied: namely, content analysis, critical discourse analysis, and corpora techniques. Several coding categories are employed for the content analysis, including what type of stories are published about Bulgaria in comparison with countries of a similar size and standing; which stories were not covered by the BBC; and what areas are of specific interest in the coverage of former communist countries. A new taxonomy is established for thematic threads and continuous coverage, which sets off significant value-laden aspects of news reporting.
Critical discourse analysis reveals that Bulgarians are construed via a different set of referential terms – while English people living abroad are called “ex-patriots”, Bulgarians are “immigrants”. In its plentiful criticism of Bulgaria, “Euro Speak” is reproduced where nominalisations such as “we cannot delay their integration” reveal a mental frame of rejection, not integration. The BBC uses EU jargon between inverted commas – the effects of Bulgaria’s integration into the Schengen zone are “grave” – instead of a factual, taxonomic adjective naming the actual consequences. Thus, the language used reveals hidden attitudes. Corpora techniques include establishing words whose frequency in the articles about Bulgaria is higher than in a balanced corpus of English. Such nouns in the five-year corpus include CORRUPTION, POOR and POOREST. Maybe the BBC reporters believed they were covering events as they happened but the results evoke a grim picture, prompting unfavourable attitudes to Bulgarians. That is why the images spawned by news coverage need to be monitored and moderated – for which this book offers an array of methodologies.
Elena Tarasheva is Lecturer of English Studies at New Bulgarian University. She received her PhD in Computational Linguistics, and has specialised in cultural studies and corpus linguistics. Her book Repetitions of Word Forms in Texts was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2011 and presents the findings of her doctoral thesis. She is the author of a controversial article exploring the place of Eastern European researchers in international discourse in the journal Discourse and Society. She has also authored chapters in the books Developing Intercultural Competence in Practice and Global Citizenship in the English Language Classroom.
“The 2013 debate over restricting immigration from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK revealed not only ignorance about these two places and their people and intentions, they – in the case of Bulgaria – deliberately confused the image of ‘Bulgarians’ and ‘Roma’. It used to be that Bulgaria lacked an image, now it suffers from having one manufactured for it. This book sets the reader straight on reality and image manipulation.”
—Professor Randall Baker, Indiana University
"There are a lot of truthful observations in the research. The topic is very important, especially in view of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament and the developments of the EU."
—Professor Ruth Wodak, Lancaster University
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