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What Are Journalists For? [Paperback]

Jay Rosen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1, 2001 0300089074 978-0300089073
American journalists in the 1990s confronted disturbing trends-an erosion of trust in the news media, weakening demand for serious news, flagging interest in politics and civic affairs, and a discouraging public climate that seemed to be getting worse. In response, some news professionals sought to breach the growing gap between press and public with an experimental approach-public journalism. This book is an account of the movement for public journalism, or civic journalism, told by Jay Rosen, one of its leading developers and defenders. Rosen recalls the events that led to the movement's founding and gives a range of examples of how public journalism is practiced in American newsrooms. He traces the intellectual roots of the movement and shows how journalism can be made vital again by rethinking exactly what journalists are for. Those who have supported the cause of public journalism have focused on first principles: democracy as something we do, citizens as the ones who do it, politics as public problem-solving, and deliberation as a means to that end. Rosen tells what happened as the movement gained momentum in newsrooms around the country and in the professional culture of the press. He reviews the flood of criticism and commentary aimed at public journalism and responds to those who express alarm at the experiment. Examining the mark that the movement has made on the field, Rosen upholds public journalism not only as a way for journalists to find a renewed sense of civic purpose for their craft, but also as a way to improve civic life and strengthen democracy.

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Editorial Reviews


"A valuable addition to a meager list of books that take journalism seriously." -- Tom Goldstein, New York Times Book Review

"This remarkable book is the best statement yet of civic journalism's philosophy, promise, and problems. A must read." -- Thomas E. Patterson, Harvard University

About the Author

Jay Rosen is associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, New York University, and former director of the Kettering Foundation's Project on Public Life and the Press.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300089074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300089073
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended October 19, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in topics like UGC, social media, participatory journalism, web 2.0, and so forth. This book provides interesting insights into the origins of the afore-mentioned phenomena, by focusing very directly on the "audience" of journalistic organizations. What's most impressive about this volume is that although it was published in 2001, many of the insights are largely confirmed by the latest trends in today's communication/journalism environment. I wouldn't say I agree with everything Jay says. But, this book is thoughtful, enjoyable to read, and has largely been validated by what happened to journalism recently. I describe more of my thoughts on this book on my blog.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another naive (sequestered?) American critic January 31, 2006
I came across this book while doing some research on the efficacy of peer-reviewed and published science research. It's estimated that 35% of it has serious methodological errors. The idea of an 'objective press' is only taken seriously by those who never took epistemology 101. With this in mind, Rosen basically sets up a straw man, i.e., the concept that the press strives for objectivity if not always reaching it. This is by most philosophers a fallacy. Considering the non-scientific nature of newsgathering and interpretation, the premise is wrong to begin with. Thus, the idea that one should strive for a 'public journalism' is a false conclusion as ALL reporting is public journalism with an embedded ideology. Another major problem with Rosen's analysis, and this is an unfortunate artifact of American education in general, is that the 'Press' is seen as the American press. This is most likely the case because most Americans are monolingual and do not read the press of non-English speaking countries (which have quite an audience, I'd say) No mention of the 'feuilleton: that traditional European newspaper column that examines current events in terms of philosophical issues. Another fault of American media criticism: the lack of a background steeped in philosophy, theology, and the history of ideas. I daresay a novel about a journalist would be a more revelatory read than this predicatable expository analysis. And then, of course, we have the ultimate naivete of the American Scholar: the failure to include the economic dimension of the media. When all is said and done, the answer to 'What do journalists do?' is quite simple. Earn a living. At a workshop with Alain Resnais, the director of Last Year At Marienbad'--not your usual Hollywood flick. In response to the question "Why do you do what you do?', he looked at the inquisitor with a bit of disbelief, and answered, "To earn a living, of course."
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