“So where are strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
“(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”, written and produced by Nick Lowe, performed by Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Armed Forces (US version, Columbia Records, 1979)
Philosopher and social critic Alain de Botton has written a provocative book called ‘The News: a user’s manual’. Through chapters dealing with local politics and world news, business news and consumer affairs, celebrity, and disaster news he attempts to illustrate how the media fails to provide context and meaning to the stories they present. de Botton does not quarrel with the factual accuracy of media coverage but criticizes the lack of the unifying narrative, a missing the forest from the trees type of complaint. The most powerful critique of de Botton comes precisely from the industry itself fairly citing the he refuses to define what the news is, and that de Botton’s view is naïve or at least overly simplistic.
The history of news and newspapers has a long and stories tradition. Andrew Pettegree’s, ‘The Invention of News’ provides an excellent overview of the origins of newspapers in Europe and North America. de Botton’s point seems to be that the media has occupied a new position of authority that previously was controlled by religion or government. In the past centuries religious institutions and government demanded and expected obedience based on its claim to authority. The newspaper tradition challenged this power with demands of fact checking, investigative reporting, editorial opinion and advocacy. Are those traditions being upheld (or could they be upheld) in a new digital environment of potential citizen journalists and where free content is not only provided but actually expected regardless of the format or electronic platform.
Just as it is often stated on democracy, are we getting the newspaper/media coverage we deserve. If we are willing to pay or subsidize editorial and journalistic quality, what will be the price, free or not?
‘Page One: inside the New York Times and the future of journalism.’ Edited by David Folkenflik.
The news media is in the middle of a revolution. Old certainties have been shoved aside by new entities such as WikiLeaks and Gawker, Politico and the Huffington Post. But where, in all this digital innovation, is the future of great journalism?
‘Death and Life of American Journalism’ by Robet McChesney and John Nichols.
Daily newspapers are closing across America. Washington bureaus are shuttering; whole areas of the federal government are now operating with no press coverage. Journalism, the counterbalance to corporate and political power, the lifeblood of American democracy, is not just threatened.
‘Deadlines and Disruption’ by Stephen Shepard.
“This is two compelling books in one: Shepard’s story of his life in print journalism, and a clearheaded look at the way journalism is evolving due to electronic media, social networking, and the ability of anyone with a computer and an opinion to make him- or herself heard.” –Booklist
The New News Reports of the death of the news media are highly premature, though you wouldn’t know it from the media’s own headlines. Ken Doctor goes far beyond those headlines, taking an authoritative look at the fast-emerging future.
‘Blur: how to know what’s true in the age of information overload’, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel.
Amid the hand-wringing over the death of “true journalism” in the Internet Age–the din of bloggers, the echo chamber of Twitter, the predominance of Wikipedia–veteran journalists and media critics Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel have written a pragmatic, serious-minded guide to navigating the twenty-first century media terrain.
‘The News and Public Opinion: media effects on civic life’, edited by Mac McCombs
The daily news plays a major role in the continuously changing mix of thoughts, feelings and behavior that defines public opinion. This book details these effects of the news media on the sequence of outcomes that collectively shape public opinion.