Losing the News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy (Institutions of American Democracy) Reprint Edition
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"Thoughtful."--New York Times Book Review
"An impassioned call to action to preserve the best of traditional newspaper journalism."--The San Francisco Chronicle
"Penetrating analysis of an industry in turmoil."--The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"In a style both compellingly personal and fully professional, Jones provides a concise social history of news, ethics and First Amendment issues. He then grapples with some fundamental questions. Is news, as presented by professional journalists, as essential to democracy as we tell ourselves? Can it survive on its own in a marketplace where the advertising subsidy is waning and the accompanying entertainment segments are being unbundled and peddled separately?" --American Journalism Review
"Alex Jones's Losing the News is an important book. It is insightful and highly readable, at a level only a great journalist and master storyteller such as Jones could achieve with this subject. This isn't a book for or about just journalists and their profession. It's must reading for all Americans who care about our country's present and future. Analysis, commentary, scholarship and excellent writing, with a strong, easy-to-follow narrative about why you should care, makes this a candidate for one of the best books of the year."--Dan Rather
"No one knows more about journalism than Alex Jones. No one watches it more scrupulously. No one cares more deeply for its future. Losing the News also proves that no one writes of the subject more persuasively or more beautifully. Journalism could have no surer champion."--Roger Rosenblatt
"Drawing on his unique experiences as a prize-winning reporter, director of the major center on politics and the press, and fourth generation of a newspaper-owning family, Alex Jones provides an authoritative account of why journalism is vital, how it has lost its bearings, and which can be done to reinvigorate this essential foundation of a democratic society."--Howard Gardner, Harvard University
"Losing the News reviews the role of news media in a democracy to set the stage for chapters assessing particular aspects. These include discussion of the fragile First Amendment, objectivity's last stand, media ethics, the curious story of news, the crumbling role of traditional newspapers, the newer media, and what can - and should - happen." --Communication Booknotes Quarterly
About the Author
Alex S. Jones is one of the nation's most frequently cited authorities on media issues. He covered the press for The New York Times from 1983 to 1992 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. For the past eight years he has been Director of Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and is the Laurence M. Lombard Lecturer in the Press and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is co-author with Susan E. Tifft of The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty and The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times , which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award. He has been host of National Public Radio's On The Media, and host and executive editor of PBS's Media Matters .
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Alex Jones, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, comes to these themes honestly as the scion of a small-town Tennessee newspaper family. It's no wonder he feels threatened.
In all fairness, there is considerable reason for apprehension over the decline of America's major newspapers. Reflecting shrunken profits, repeated staff layoffs, closed news bureaus, and greater reliance on syndicated material, the nation's once-fat dailies are slimming down at a terrifying pace. In place of the papers' often earnest efforts at "objectivity," we are increasingly basing our views on the unedited diatribes to be found on the likes of Fox "News" and the daily blogosphere. The perils for democracy in America are obvious. For example, could the so-called "Tea Party" have thrived in a world largely dependent on newspapers for its information? Or is that sad testament to the profound ignorance of the American people a product of Fox News, talk radio, and organized Internet rumor-mongering? You won't be surprised to learn that there is no question in my mind that, despite its familiarity to the 19th-Century No-Nothing movement, I'm convinced the Tea Party is an artifact of the channels through which we now receive so much of our political information.
Jones writes well, and my harsh criticism may not be entirely deserved. However, it comes from my nagging feeling as I read this book that its underlying theme is nostalgia, a craving for the day when so much of the news that appeared in the nation's dailies and on the air originated in the early edition of the Old Gray Lady, The New York Times. Those days are fast receding into history, and as Jones himself writes, there's not much anyone can do about it other than "Adapt or Die."
(From Mal Warwick's Blog on Books)
So...He writes from direct first hand experience on the transformation of the down-home journalism of the past, into the Darwinian big business media empires of today....and the many influences upon it...all driven by money...and ratings....and profit. To Jones, it's this entertainment and opinion smoke screen....over and above hard objective news....that lies in jeopardy of depriving citizen's the right learn of the facts...hard, unpleasant, but true...as they often are. This is what he means, when he writes of "iron core" of the news.
The one important caveat I have about his book is that I wish Jones had addressed, more thoroughly and carefully, the impact of the net....but his ethical perspective towards the news holds true no matter. The fact is that hard information, as had been unavoidable and intrinsic in old traditional media, is now also greatly expanded in the electronic media...but only for those who SEEK it.
His thesis is that the public has not been well served in the traditional commercial media environment...which they actually own...is central to his thesis of continual ethical challenge to the bedrock of democracy...an informed citizenry. I recommend this book for anyone who wishes to understand just how fragile the First Amendment truly is. Jones's insistence that ethics, and objectivity, and accountability, need to find their way the the center of both our new, and old media world, to me is timelessly convincing....as is his faith that we must eventually rediscover the "iron core" of objective news, to balance the fire storm of too often uninformed personal opinion...or lose the most essential element of our American public discourse.
It's a healthy thing to raise these questions...noting well that perfect objectivity is rarely, if ever possible...however, I agree with Jones, that it's worth the effort...and, that we can do a lot better than what we have today. For the general reader this book, is a good and fascinating intro into this ever evolving subject.