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Losing the News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy (Institutions of American Democracy Series) Hardcover – September 2, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0195181234 ISBN-10: 0195181239 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize journalist Jones (coauthor of The Patriarch) argues that the demise of the newspaper industry is corroding the iron core of information that is at the center of a functioning democracy. Increasingly, he contends, what is passed off as news is actually entertainment; puff pieces have replaced the investigative reporting that allows citizens to make informed decisions. We seem poised to be a nation overfed but undernourished, a culture of people waddling around, swollen with media exposure, and headed toward an epidemic of social diabetes, he writes. Sifting through a history of the media that touches on such technological improvements as the Gutenberg press and the telegraph, Jones focuses on the Internet and the damage he believes it has wrought on print newspapers. Weaving in the story of his own family's small newspaper in Tennessee, Jones presents an insider's look at an industry in turmoil, calling plaintively for a serious examination of what a nation loses when its newspapers fold. Unfortunately, he offers few answers for saving print journalism, but his compelling narrative will incite some readers to drum up solutions of their own. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"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

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Product Details

  • Series: Institutions of American Democracy Series
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195181239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195181234
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,011,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By To Be Simple VINE VOICE on October 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is no question that Alex S. Jones has more than enough credentials to write a book such as "Losing the News." His vast experience at a variety of levels in the field of journalism, combined with his sense of thoughtfulness, make for an author who should excel at penning a book on the history and future of the news. "Losing the News," succeeds at times, but also falls short to some extent in giving an accurate analysis of the current newspaper crisis.

First off, this book will prove to be a valuable read for people who have little to no knowledge of the role of print media in America over the decades. Jones skillfully explains how print journalism has evolved over the years, and why it has been important for the survival of democracy. However, there is not any groundbreaking information presented for people already familiar with such areas.

The most interesting aspect of Jones' book is his discussion of the erosion of the iron core of "accountability" news. Jones is highly critical of the television news' propensity to offer up opinionated talking heads in place of solid news reporting. He also is critical of the increase, over the years, by media outlets to stray away from hard news, and instead do more reporting of personal interest and entertainment stories. His argument is that this phenomenon leaves people less informed, therefore weakening democracy on the whole.

Jones also discusses in detail the concept of "citizen journalism" brought on by the Internet. He obviously feels that the proliferation of blogs and nontraditional news web sites are a threat to traditional journalism. Jones strongly believes that in order to be called a journalist, one needs to be trained as a journalist.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Soller on July 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Losing the News challenges the reader to assess the importance of news---its purpose, content, value, delivery and business mechanisms, and ethics. And, in that assessment, the reader reevaluates the importance of his or her responsibility as an `every day' American citizen and consumer of media information.

Who is this reader Alex S. Jones addresses? In keeping with major themes of the text---how news interacts with democracy, Jones writes this book for those who love to read print newspapers, for those who are connected to news electronically, for lovers of US history, government, ethics, and all social sciences, for newspaper people and journalists, elected officials, policy makers, and private citizens. The wise teacher or professor who wishes to deliver a dynamic, thought-provoking, provocative (and, probably, the most popular on campus) course will use this book as a text.

But, most of all, Losing the News is for people who love good books. Written by a master storyteller, the prose is gorgeous. Jones' style empowers the reader to enjoy the book from his or her unique experience.

I noticed the Amazon release date for Losing the News is August 19; a very fitting date as it is the birthday of the great 20th century British writer and fierce journalistic defender of freedom, Bernard Levin, CBE. Whether your purchase is print or Kindle (ironic chuckle), Losing the News by Alex S. Jones is a must read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alex S. Jones is a journalist who has just about seen it all: he has owned and managed a paper, he has written features, he won a Pulitzer Prize, he has taught journalism, he has done radio journalism and he has written several books. He knows of what he writes.

Jones is concerned about the evolution of news gathering services (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines) from expensive investigative work to nonsense tabloid stuff (this week it is Tiger Woods - thanks to serious news organizations I know more than I've ever wanted to know about his wife, his doctor, etc. - but just go out and try to get some solid info about the health care debate!)

He bemoans a number of trends, including the synergy type news that ABC, NBC & CBS do to promote new books, movies or shows. He is concerned that the "iron core" of news is being ignored and is shrinking because it is hard to produce and can be costly. By iron core he means the serious analysis news (not opinion pieces) and investigative journalism that the public can trust. He is also unhappy (but not enough, in my opinion) at advocacy "gotcha" journalism that undermines the public's faith.

He includes a nice history of journalism in America and plenty of first-hand examples from his own family's experiences. His analysis of technological trends is spot-on and ties in neatly with the analysis in the book Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson. At the end of the book he offers some interesting predictions about where news is heading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karl Bielefeldt VINE VOICE on January 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I disagree with most of the editorial content in Losing the News, but I knew that was likely when I first read the blurb. I don't believe in forming my opinions without opposition, but I also don't feel a book review is the appropriate forum to debate the author's opinions.

Pick any paragraph at random from the book, and it is undeniable that Alex Jones is a talented writer. His style is easy to read and evocative. The weakness is in the structure as a whole. The first few pages of each chapter start out strong and engaging, then it fizzles out into weaker content that often feels more like a repetitive rant than building to a conclusion. I suppose it's a journalistic habit to put the best content "above the fold," but in a book it doesn't work well. You won't miss much if you read it like a newspaper and skip to the next chapter when you start to lose interest.

Also a holdover journalistic habit, the author doesn't cite sources as well as I would expect from a non-fiction book. He writes like someone who expects to be taken at his word.

The best parts of the book are the case studies the author cites of significant news stories and their impact on public opinion and policy. He has excellent insider insight. The author has the potential for a great future book if he titles each chapter with a major issue and explores the significant news stories that helped shape that issue. Unfortunately, Losing the News uses them almost as an aside, as supposed proof that stories like those will cease to exist without legions of highly paid professional journalists.

In summary, Losing the News is worth picking up to read like a newspaper. Skim for the best content and skip the rest. Unless you're a journalist insider yourself, don't torture yourself by reading it straight through.
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