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Liberty and the News (James Madison Library in American Politics) Paperback – October 21, 2007

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Product Details

  • Series: James Madison Library in American Politics
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st Princeton Pbk. Ed edition (October 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691134804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691134802
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Why republish this old book? In its new format, it features an introduction by Lippmann biographer Ronald Steel, who economically places the book in the context of its day. There's also an afterword, nearly half as long as Lippmann's book, by the journalist, former Clinton Administration insider and newly appointed Clinton (Hillary that is) adviser Sidney Blumenthal.... If there is a rationale for republishing Liberty and the News, it surely must be to give Lippmann's diagnosis and prescriptions a further airing. If we do, we see not only new energy in journalism education but clear evidence that Lippmann's political observatories have taken hold."--Michael Schudson, The Nation

"Lippmann's concern more than four generations ago was not about journalists, but about the impact poor journalism was having on readers, or more to the point, on the citizens in this democracy. We should have the same concern today."--Timothy J. McNulty, Chicago Tribune

"It is absolutely necessary to read it slowly, paragraph by paragraph, in order to follow the 'precocity' of Walter Lippmann. It is quite obvious, that the author would have seen today, 90 years after he wrote the pages, the same crisis of journalism. His critical remarks however, deserve attentive reading and observance. We would strongly recommend it, but: Be careful, don't read too much at a time, unless you do not want to be mingled in a plethora of philosophical remarks!"--Henn-Jri Uibopuu, Vienna Online Journal on International Constitutional Law

"There is great merit in reading old books because you find that current preoccupations are always echoes of past debates, although of course the context changes. Lippmann's essay is full of insight and seems particularly timely again now."--
Enlightened Economist

About the Author

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) was a prominent American essayist and editor. His many books include "A Preface to Politics, Public Opinion, A Preface to Morals", and "The Good Society". Ronald Steel is professor of international relations and history at the University of Southern California. He is author of "Walter Lippman and the American Century". Sidney Blumenthal, former adviser to President Bill Clinton, is the author of "How Bush Rules" (Princeton) and a regular columnist for the "Guardian" and "".

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Montague on October 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), nearly 35 years dead, towers over American journalism like the Washington Monument towers over the National Mall. His influence stretches, like a shadow, from near the beginning of the twentieth century to its end and beyond. Lippmann surely never saw a personal computer and probably never dreamed of the Internet. Nevertheless, his thought shapes much of the content that professional journalists post on the World Wide Web. High-minded amateurs who set up blogs in revolt against "mainstream" journalism -- many of whom probably never heard of Walter Lippmann or are but vaguely aware that there was once such a person -- labor under the influence of Lippmann. Their work, their ideals, their ideas in part are shaped by him if they know it or if they don't. In sum, it is impossible to overstate Lippmann's influence on American journalism and it is good when something happens that recalls journalism's attention to the life and to the thought of Walter Lippmann.

The latest such thing is a reprint of Lippmann's first book, 'Liberty and the News' (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press; 2008; 118 pp; $16.95). The original work was published in 1920. This latest edition is updated inasmuch as it features a new Foreword by Ronald Steel and an Afterword by Sidney Blumenthal.

Neither Steel nor Blumenthal manages to squeeze any fresh juice out of Lippmann's book. To treat the modern writers fairly, however, one must allow that after three generations of academic journalists and hordes of gradgrinds have pored over 'Liberty and the News' with microscopic intensity it would require genius of a rare order to find and extract even one drop of additional meaning from Lippmann's text.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on October 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
This brilliant collection comprises three linked essays by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Walter Lippmann - Journalism and the Higher Law, What Modern Liberty Means, and Liberty and the News, and a longer study, `A test of the news', by Lippmann and Charles Merz, all published in 1920.

As the authors wrote, `A test of the news' "deals with the reporting of... the Russian Revolution from March, 1917, to March, 1920. The analysis covers thirty-six months and over one thousand issues of a daily newspaper [the New York Times]. The authors have examined all news items about Russia in that period in the newspaper selected; between three and four thousand items were noted. Little attention was paid to editorials."

The authors wrote, "The only question asked is whether the reader of the news was given a picture of various phases of the revolution which survived the test of events, or whether he was misled into believing that the outcome of events would be radically different from the actual outcome."

They noted, "In the two years from November, 1917, to November, 1919, no less than ninety-one times was it stated that the Soviets were nearing their rope's end, or actually had reached it."

In November 1919, a representative of the Czech army said of the government propped up by the British government, "our army has been forced against its convictions to support a state of absolute despotism and unlawfulness which had had its beginnings here under defense of the Czech arms. The military authorities of the Government of Omsk are permitting criminal actions that will stagger the entire world.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The scanning done is horrible. The pages are cut and they are not arranged sequentially. I can read enough to know that could I read the full book, I would have loved it. So now I go buy the paper back.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Kellogg on January 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a short book reissued by the Princeton University Press 88 years after its original publication.
Lippmann argues for information that is honest, not created out of dishonesty and untruth. In current day terms, Lippmann favors information without spin. He argues also for journalism and journalists to be professional, and for the information they dispense to be fact, not fiction.

A fiery afterword by journalist and former White House adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, derides journalism and its failures during the White House administration of George W. Bush.
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