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The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1568586052
ISBN-10: 1568586051
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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
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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: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,122,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Should the United States government subsidize print news? In The Death and Life of American Journalism and From Cronkite to Colbert, the authors establish that a functional democracy and an informed public are intimately intertwined. Because media outlets, particularly those of print journalism, face extinction due to the Internet, corporate culture, economic recession/depression, and loss of interest, McChesney and Nichols argue that subsidizing journalism and de-corporatization are the only ways to maintain a politically-educated public. Resultantly, many have called for governmental intervention to maintain an informed public; most notably, in The Death and Life of American Journalism (2010), McChesney and Nichols argue that the press requires $35 billion in subsidies.

Let me repeat that. $35 BILLION in subsidies.

While McChesney and Nichols’s sentiments are valid, their solution is misplaced.
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone who has ever sat in front of the TV or read an article and ever asked themselves, "Why do I waste my time with this trash?" when confronted with the empty, partisan quarrels, conspiracy theories, and celebrity gossip that seem to pass for news these days, this is the book for you.
Of course, there are no easy answers when there are no easy questions.
McChesney and Nichols offer some creative ideas for government subsidies that encourage the revival of journalism (especially at the local level) without direct government control over what gets published. While they maintain that "free press" does indeed mean the exclusion of the government from the editorial process, they point to the important role that federal postal subsidies played in fostering the growth of newspapers in America's early days. Excited but healthily skeptical about the possibilities of digital journalism, this is not a bucket of a nostalgia for the decaying remains of 20th century commercial journalism. McChesney and Nichols exhortations and heady prose get a bit repetitive after a while, but this is still a worthwhile read.
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