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The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0826215680
ISBN-10: 0826215688
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Editorial Reviews


“Resplendent with vivid examples and analogies that illustrate its concepts and conclusions, this book poses practical suggestions for reviving U.S. journalism.”—Choice

About the Author

Philip Meyer is Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author or editor of a number of books, including Assessing Public Journalism and Letters from the Editor: Lessons on Journalism and Life by William F. Woo.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri (December 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826215688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826215680
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Meyer (1930- ) began his newspaper career as a carrier for the Clay Center (Kansas) Dispatch in 1943. He still porches his neighbors' newspapers when he finds them thrown carelessly at the curb. He majored in journalism at Kansas State and was editor of the daily Collegian his final semester in 1952. After serving two years in the Navy, he joined the Topeka Daily Capital as assistant state editor and met his wife there. She had a part-time job writing wedding stories, and she wrote their wedding story in 1956.
Their wedding trip took them to Chapel Hill, N.C., where they remained while Meyer worked on his M.A. in political science. In 1958, the Miami Herald hired him to be its education writer, and he covered Florida's first court-ordered school desegregation. In 1962, he was posted to the Knight Newspapers Washington Bureau as correspondent for the Herald's sister paper, the Akron Beacon Journal. He won a Nieman fellowship to Harvard with the help of his bureau chief, Edwin A. Lahey, who had been a member of the first class of Nieman fellows in 1938. At Harvard, he studied the quantitative methods in social science that he had avoided in graduate school. He applied those methods while on loan to the Detroit Free Press to help cover the 1967 riot in that city. The use of survey research to discover the underlying causes of the riot was one factor in the awarding of the Pulitzer Prize for local general reporting to the staff of the Free Press.
The civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s offered more opportunities for demonstrating the journalistic application of social science methods, and the Russell Sage Foundation supported the writing of his first book, Precision Journalism, published in 1973. In 1978, Meyer turned his attention to newspaper marketing problems and joined the corporate headquarters of what by then was Knight Ridder Newspapers. Chapel Hill lured him back with a Kenan professorship in 1981, and he became the school's first Knight Chair in Journalism professor a few years later.
Professor Meyer retired in 2008 and started writing a memoir that was published in 2012 as Paper Route: Finding My Way to Precision Journalism.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By will sites on February 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Philip Meyer has written an excellent book concerning the state of the American newspaper industry from the vantage point of spending a working lifetime within it. As an author and professor of journalism at one of the nation's most respected j-schools, Meyer offers a plethora of interesting facts and data concerning a societal shift away from the printed news page and the why's and how's of a slow (but not so certain) business demise. Is the American newspaper really sliding into the abyss? Will Wall Street abandon the printed news trade for more fertile economic ground? Should journalism students seek safer career havens?

Utilizing a wealth of contemporary studies and surveys, Meyer's The Vanishing Newspaper answers many questions and suggests that successful newspapers have positive influences in their respective communities through (among other factors) clear and accurate writing and social responsibility. By embracing new technologies - especially the ubiquitous Internet - newspapers can remain a respected source of information and viable business enterprise. Does accuracy and readability have a direct impact on circulation and ad revenue? What are the consequences of a newspaper's content? And just why are fewer people reading newspapers? Read and find out.

As an experienced newspaper publisher/managing editor/reporter, I highly recommend this insightful book for anyone involved in journalism - including students, teachers, writers, business managers and investors. No class, seminar, or casual conversation can supply the resources and suggestions found in The Vanishing Newspaper. Above all else, Meyer provides a realistic and positive outlook for those who love the profession and choose solutions over indifference.

Final word: This should be a mandatory read at every newspaper and j-school in America.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Walter Neary on December 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
You should give this book to anyone considering a career in newspaper journalism. If the person still decides to go into journalism, you know he or she is dedicated and belongs in the business!

With both anecdotes and detailed numbers and charts, Meyer describes the 'harvesting' of media properties in the 80's, 90's and beyond. Just as a landowner can harvest trees that have grown over many years, a publisher can pull out greater profits by reducing the expenses that produced quality and reputation over many years (like reducing the number and quality of reporters and editors).

Thus, this book is the equivalent of a VH1 'behind the scenes' docudrama explaining in painful detail the travesties we all saw in 80's and 90's newspaper management. Just as the rock band members look like heck by the end of an episode, newspapers are showing the effects of abusing their bodies. A carefully explained survey and analysis show that as many as three out of five newspaper stories are inaccurate in one form or another (Meyer's descriptions of this whole subject are considerably nuanced and a joy for anyone who has tried to quantify newspaper accuracy).

Much of the talk about journalism, quality and respect has been very fuzzy. We used to say stories were 'good' or 'bad' based on whatever was the criteria of the biggest editor in the room. We had no idea where individual stories or overall patterns of story quality fit into the newspaper's future. Meyer has detailed chapters quantifying whatever can be established about the role of profit and accuracy, profit and and credibility, and profit and the role of the various kinds of editors.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rafting Girl on December 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
While Meyer has conducted many studies, this book remains unengaging and void of useful evaluation. Kovach and Resenstiel's "Elements of Journalism" offers more insight to emerging journalists about the state of the profession of journalism. Meyer's book has more to do with the theory of social science studies than journalism. Meyer took 250 pages to say what could have been said in one chapter or one magazine article.
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