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The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again Hardcover – January 5, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1568586052 ISBN-10: 1568586051 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568586051
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586052
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two respected media authorities, McChesney, a radio host of Media Matters, and Nichols, the Nation's Washington, D.C., correspondent, spell out the rapid decline of and possible financial solutions for American journalism in their new book. The Old School print journalism empire, the authors write, is crumbling: weeklies and daily newspapers closing down; thousands of reporters and editors getting the pink slip, and Washington bureaus and other areas of federal government assigned less coverage. Although McChesney and Nichols point out the true culprits in the fall of the national press, such as the Internet, the ownership of the press and TV news shows by profit-hungry large media conglomerates, and hard economic times, they are excessively upbeat when calling for a new era of experimentation in which a hybrid of old and new media emerges. In this powerful book on the shrinking American media, the authors accurately explain its current crisis, but fall somewhat short in solving the many challenges confronting journalism, including major subsidies when the public has little stomach for that. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* American newspapers are dying at an alarming rate, killed off by a failing corporate model that puts profits before journalism and a reliance on advertisers who are flocking to the Internet. Respected journalists McChesney and Nichols offer historical perspective—how we got into this sorry state—and analysis from journalists, economists, and advocates on how we might be able to get out of it. They cite statistics, chronicling efforts to move newsgathering to the Internet and the success of many bloggers who rely on aggregated news from old media. Their bottom line: without some kind of government support, journalism as we know it will not survive. Despite resistance to the idea of government support of media, they point to postal subsidies dating back to the 1700s. They also offer the model of government and philanthropic support of media in Britain (the BBC and the Guardian), as well as the much leaner history of government support for public broadcasting in the U.S. Among their suggestions: worker and community cooperative ownership of local media and quasi nonprofit news organizations. The authors argue passionately for radical solutions but also offer an exhilarating vision for the direction of American journalism. --Vanessa Bush

More About the Author

Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of several books on the media, including the award-winning Rich Media, Poor Democracy, and a co-editor (with Ben Scott) of Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Radical Media Criticism (both available from The New Press). He lives in Urbana, Illinois.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Gunther Purdue on January 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is another in a long line of enlightening and valuable studies by the authors pertaining the role of big business in the demise of American news media in the name of profit. It is required reading for anyone concerned with the loss of the democratic values that once served as the foundation of journalistic enterprise.
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55 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Bruce W. Fraser on January 16, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Not only is this book NOT radical, it is intelligently written, well-researched, timely, and important. A functional democracy requires a healthy press, and clearly the US press is suffering under the influence of private capital. (Fox News is the poster child of our moribund press, but it is not alone). Public investment in journalism is a refreshing idea and one that should be take seriously.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Crabby Abby TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A tad dry at times, but considering the broad topic pie charts and graphs seem to support the assertions made by the authors and aid in understanding some core issues.
This book is actually quite informative in regard to historical precedence. Early news/journalism was initially supported by a stamp tax during the time of Jefferson. As public discemination of news was popularized, it gave rise to news syndicates and corporate conglomerates which became sources of profitability via advertising. Furthering the decline of journalism and unbiased reporting was the mounting issue of increased revenues. Add to this sagging economic times, continued economic slumps affecting the revenues of all forms of media outlets, and the popularization of the internet, and we have a current disaster in the making.
The authors' contention is that this need not be the case. They offer some innovative and at times some traditional solutions to restoring news/journalism to its rightful place in a free and democratic society.
This book is informative and thought provoking. The proposals for remedying the problems defined make sense, but in these seriously troubled times with so much political bickering I wonder how long it will take for the problems addressed to be solved. This is a great book. Hope the topic addressed will not be slipped under the carpet or ignored altogether as my newspaper continues to shrink.
This is a great book for concerned citizens, journalists, and students of journalism.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Forrest Burtnette on June 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors point out that Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Franklin along with the majority of the other founding fathers wanted a goverenment-subsidized press. Even Hamilton wanted it, and he was one of the most laisez-faire founders. They all recognized the importance of keeping the people informed. I have to admit of all the programming on TV, I think the government-subsidized PBS the most edifying channel on TV. Democracy does not work without a truly vibrant press. Both democracy and the press are in peril in America, and the authors point out that this is no coincidence, as they are inextricably linked. Some would say federal subsidies for journalism is a radical idea, but it is actually a very old, thoroughly american idea. We as a people have just been duped into thinking that the free market will sort it all out and supply quality news. Although NBC, CNN, FOX etc. report some stories well, like hurricanes and sporting events, the sensitive stories about corruption are usually watered down or cartoonishly-sensationalized. Thousands of exposees never get writen because of the lack of investigative journalism at many news firms. This deprives the public of critical information they need to intelligently vote. McChesney and Nichols argue that we make decisions on what we know. What we know about current events and government is obtained mostly from the media. Why not return to the way of thinking about the press when the country was first formed? It is not enough for government to just not interfere with free press. It is government's job to actively promote a free press, because as John C. Calhoun proclaimed in the early 1800s, "The mail and the press are the nerves of the body politic".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dutch on May 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've just read this book and find it indeed radical in that the authors discuss what to so many media outlets in un-speakable... Truth about the fate of our system of journalism and along with it, the fate of our functioning Democracy.
The core foundation of our Nation's "4th Estate", the media, was rooted in the very foundations of our system of government. Robert McChesney and John Nichols remind us that our original media, the printed press, was subsidized and fostered by our own government without any strings to the content. The media system as we know it top day reflects little or none of the diversity of opinion, the broad range of content, depth of discussion vibrancy it has had in the past. With an ever increasing focus on Profit as the sole motivation of our media owners and a shrinking number of corporations controlling production and content, we need to reinvent the Press-"wheel" or our representative democracy is likely to perish. The press we engage in the near future may look nothing like that with which we grew up and that's okay. The point is that a well informed, concerned populace is fundamental to a functioning Democratic Republic and the current media-mogul model is not fostering it. McChesney and Nichols bring together the voices and minds with the most viable solutions for this crisis of Democracy.
So, while mid sized and small local papers lay off entire newsrooms or shut their doors altogether, the larger Presses keep rolling without a word about the real crisis and a perspective of its actual titanic scale.
This is a radical book in that it calls the media crisis just what it is, a crisis of Democracy. Furthermore this book will stoke the fires of creativity and entrepreneurialism that will indeed steer us back on course and salvage and strengthen our Press and our Democracy along with it.
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