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.)
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*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