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Covering America: A Narrative History of a Nation's Journalism Hardcover – March 2, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A comprehensive, fresh telling of an important dimension of American history. Covering America adds shape and new understanding to the intriguing stories many of us know as myths of origin, from Ben Franklin's escape from printer's devil servitude to biographies of such greats as David Halberstam and H. L. Mencken. Daly is skeptical enough to dig into the facts behind the legends, but happily he is not on a debunking crusade. His obvious faith in journalism as an honorable estate (as Louis Rubin calls it) and learned profession (as Robert E. Lee tried to envision it) comes through."―Douglas Cumming, author of The Southern Press: Literary Legacies and the Challenge of Modernity

"This is grand narrative as it should be―deftly balancing nuanced and consequential portraits of individual characters (Mencken, Luce, Hearst, Winchell, Lippmann) with compelling accounts of the big developments. . . . I learned much from it and I truly enjoyed it."―Bruce Schulman, author of The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics

"Essential reading for anyone who cares about American history, media, or culture. This is a great story about the entire tradition of journalistic storytelling, told smartly and thoroughly."―Susan Orlean, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend and The Orchid Thief

"In this scholarly yet readable volume, Daly presents a surprisingly spirited and detailed account of American journalism and the many ways in which the press has impacted the trajectory of American history, and vice versa. . . . Any history book runs the risk of being bland, but Daly peppers the text with amusing anecdotes and intriguing facts. In addition to the interesting stories, Daly makes many cogent arguments about what the press has meant to the country's shared history and identity."―Publishers Weekly

"Daly provides a lively, interesting review of journalism's many personalities, events and trends. It is an excellent work of history concerning the profession and business of journalism, filled with anecdotes and intriguing facts. It surely belongs on the shelves everywhere journalism is celebrated."―Bookviews

"A handful of vintage black-and-white photographs illustrate this meticulous , methodical, and absolutely invaluable recommendation especially for public and college library collections."―Midwest Book Review

"In Covering America: A Narrative History of a Nation's Journalism, Christopher B. Daly has written a masterful, meticulously researched work that should be celebrated by not just those in the field but every informed citizen. In this landmark account, he has brilliantly examined the economic, political and social forces that have shaped America's media since their beginnings 'as a tiny and timid affair conducted by a handful of people in a remote backwater of the great British Empire.' . . . A professor of journalism now at Boston University, Daly spent 10 years as an AP editor and reporter and a decade at The Washington Post before moving to academia. He knows his subject inside-out (as it were). He also knows how to write ― and the proof is this compelling, character-driven account filled, almost novelistically, with iconic, colorful and distinctly American characters."―Providence Journal

"The combination of the big business picture with the work of individuals makes for an interesting study of the United States through the lens of the mass media, an essential form of communication throughout American history."―The Historian

"This is a useful, very up-to-date one volume narrative summary of the story. . . . For students of the history of information, this is a welcome addition to the literature on who supplied many types of publications to the American public and how they functioned. It is a practical volume for both students of American history and for participants in American media, such as journalists, editors, and publishers. In the vernacular of today's media, it is also 'a good read.'"―Information & Culture

"The strength of Covering America is Daly's emphasis on story. In a genre awash in mind-numbing recitations of names and dates, Daly has pared matters down to their essentials and given his characters room to breathe. . . . But it is in Daly's attention to larger forces, including technology, that makes Covering America stand out."―Neiman Journalism Lab

"Daly has a knack for telling a good story. . . . [Readers] will realize, as Daly makes clear, that the change [to digital newspapers], like other changes before it, is not the end of journalism, but another phase in its history."―H-Net Reviews

"This engrossing, wide-ranging history of American journalism from the colonial era to the present makes a tremendous contribution to mass communication education by being that rarest kind of textbook―one that reads like literature instead of CliffsNotes."―Journalism & Mass Communication

"Journalism students will leave a class after reading Daly's book with a clear understanding of the methods and values of the field they will soon enter. They will also gain some confidence that journalism will continue even if paper and ink disappear."―Journalism History

"Daly indicates that although some media entities certainly will meet their demise, others will adapt and allow journalism to thrive in whatever new form it takes."―American Journalism

About the Author

A veteran journalist, Christopher B. Daly teaches journalism and history at Boston University. He is coauthor of Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World, which won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association and the Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians.

For more information, please see Prof. Daly's website, http://www.coveringamerica.me/

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press; 4/15/12 edition (March 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558499113
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558499119
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everyone who cares about the "new media" -- whether for good or ill -- should read this book. It will make you a better citizen. Even if you don't care particularly about news and journalism, the history and personalities make it a fun and informative read.

I had the privilege of reading the early drafts of this entire book. Now I have the real hardcover version in my hands that arrived today from Amazon. As the son (and grandson) of a printer, a person who did work with newspapers (helping them convert to computerized typesetting in the 1970's), and an early blogger from 1999, I've lived through a very small part of the world covered in this book. I've invented things (the pioneering VisiCalc spreadsheet) and met many of those who were inventing the tools used by today's citizen and professional journalists. Reading this book was so helpful in putting the incredible evolution of journalism in the USA in perspective. What my generation has lived through is such a small part of a fascinating story with towering, sometimes courageous, and inventive individuals in each generation.

Chris weaves together the history of the United States with the evolution of the practice and business of telling us about that history, and influencing it, as it happened. An experienced feature writer as well as an historian and teacher, he brings the personalities to life and relates them to what mattered to creating the journalism we've known and that we'll be seeing in the future. I think students of business and technology will find this of interest, in addition to the obvious journalism, history, and government majors.

While the length (461 pages plus end-notes with many illuminating gems) may seem long, the sections of each chapter stand alone well like a magazine article as each personality or event is presented. They all flow together as a complete narrative if, like me, you find this hard to put down.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I teach a History of the Media class to high school students. This book is a good read if you have an interest in the development of the media in the United States and it is an excellent supplement for me as a resource. I haver several other book/textbook resources but this is by far the most comprehensive.
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Format: Hardcover
Professor Daly's book is by far the best history of U.S. journalism that I have ever encountered. The breadth of Daly's scholarship is astounding: he spent almost a decade digging into every aspect of U.S. media history, and the book meets the highest standards of academic inquiry in the Colonial Era as well as it does through the Civil War, the rise of radio and television, and the perpetual news cycle and digital technology of today.

Daly's writing is also a particular advantage of the book, because it will draw in beginning and advanced students of the field. Daly tells the story of U.S. journalism through minutely crafted biographies of central figures and milestone events. He has a naturally authoritative voice, and his command of his research resonates through every passage.

If you are considering a textbook to use for a journalism history course, you will not find a more thorough, informative, insightful, or better book. If you are simply interested in learning about U.S. media history, this is the best place to start. This is an achievement on a par with Michael Schudson's "Discovering the News." Daly's book is a profoundly impressive landmark in the history of journalism.

I should add that I am a lecturer in journalism and journalism history at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, though this review reflects only my view. I have been teaching journalism and journalism history for some 15 years at universities on three continents, and I was asked to teach the introductory course at ASU, Principles and History of Journalism, partly because of my knowledge of journalism history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
COVERING AMERICA is brilliant work using the best journalist techniques to tell the story of journalism itself. The chapter on the digital age is masterful. The whole book reminds one of Samuel Eliot Morison's great panoramic histories.
If I taught journalism history, this is the book I would use. Heck, I wouldn't bother teaching, just tell the students to read the book.
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