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Comment: There's highlighting or handwriting throughout the book. Moderately used book. Still a decent reading copy, the cover has visible markings and wear, some scant markings/marginalia inside is likely. Older publications likely noticeably aged/faded.
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The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation Hardcover – October 31, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Faced with "a flying wedge of white toughs coming at him" as he interviewed a black woman after the 1955 Emmett Till lynching trial, NBC reporter John Chancellor thrust his microphone toward them, saying, "I don't care what you're going to do to me, but the whole world is going to know it." This gripping account of how America and the world found out about the Civil Rights movement is written by two veteran journalists of the "race beat" from 1954 to 1965. Building on an exhaustive base of interviews, oral histories and memoirs, news stories and editorials, they reveal how prescient Gunnar Myrdal was in asserting that "to get publicity is of the highest strategic importance to the Negro people." The New York Times and other major media take center stage, but the authors provide a fresh account of the black press's trajectory from a time when black reporters searched "for stories white reporters didn't even know about" through the loss of the black press's "eyewitness position on the story" in Little Rock to its recovery with the Freedom Rides. Although sometimes weighted by mundane detail and deadening statistics, the book is so enlivened with anecdotes that it remains a page-turner. (Nov. 21)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Before the civil rights movement, coverage of race was almost exclusively the purview of the black press, which reported on the plight of southern blacks facing brutality and Jim Crow laws and northern blacks facing a watered-down version of the same racism. Drawing on interviews, private correspondence and notes, and unpublished articles, Roberts, a journalism professor, and Klibanoff, managing editor of theAtlanta Journal-Constitution, describe the personal and professional difficulties faced by southern-born white reporters as they took up the coverage, mostly for northern publications. They chronicle the coverage of the Emmett Till case, Selma march, Montgomery bus boycott, and bombings and sit-ins that constituted the civil rights movement. Roberts and Klibanoff also recall the hatred and threats of violence against white reporters as they dared to report on the turbulence in the South. By retelling the civil rights story from the perspective of the white reporters who covered it, Roberts and Klibanoff demonstrate the profound changes the movement wrought not only on U.S. social justice but also on American journalism. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679403817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679403814
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Schmerguls VINE VOICE on April 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have read a lot on the civil rights struggle, including Taylor Branch's trilogy, and Simple Justice, by Richard Kluger, and have appreciated all the reading I have done on that momentous struggle. But this account of how newspapers and television chronicled the exciting events told me a lot I did not know or had not remembered. The book is carefully footnoted and has a 26 page bibliography, in addition to the footnotes (thus avoiding the unfortunate lapse of some books which are well-footnoted but omit a bibliography). The book not only tells of newsmen and media sometimes going to great, even heroic lengths, to tell the story of the events in the clash between aspring blacks and the status quo, but also tells of the media which sought to uphold segregation. As with other books on the struggle, when one is appalled by the violence and murders which marked the history, it is some comfort to realize that in the end right triumphs. This book is an astoundingly interesting survey of an important aspect of the civil rights efforts of the 1950s and 1960s.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is about the television and print media reporters that covered the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's often at great risk to themselves. While it seems that the author plays up the role the reporters played in the Civil Rights era, it cannot be denied that the media played a key role in the movement and that civil rights leaders used the media as a tool to advance their cause. Leaders such as Martin Luther King and John Lewis realized that if the national press did not cover it , the event may as well not have happened. The national press and television soon began to appreciate the significance of the movement and increase their coverage of it. In this way the national press and civil rights leaders developed a kind of symbiotic relationship with overly aggressive segregationist serving as their foils. While there are really no new stories about the movement and the role of reporters seems a little overly lionized, this is an interesting book in that it tell a familiar story from a new perspective.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Outstanding effort by legendary editor Gene Roberts, widely admired for turning around the Philadelphia Inquirer in the 1980s and leading it to multiple prizes in journalism, revisits, with co-author Hank Klibanoff, managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, both their own work in civil rights reporting and the work of colleagues to pen this precise and most interesting study of what journalists were and weren't doing when segregation was legal in the U.S.

Highly readable and fascinating history.
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An important component of African-Americans attaining their civil rights was the press. Without the courageous reporters, editors and publishers, who risked financial ruin and social ostracism, the Reverend Martin Luther King and company's aspirations would have been dead in the water. Mr. Roberts and Mr. Klibanoff give a very evenhanded history of how not all newspapers were on the same philosophical page. Southern segregationist news outlets in newspapers, radio and television went to great lengths to dehumanize blacks and argue about their right to treat them as less than equals. The upper and middle-class whites as well as politicians and some Southern judges may not have been the ones busting blacks' heads, but they were certainly complicit in provoking the dimwitted rednecks into doing their violent dirty work. Most of the nation had no clue as to the horrible conditions in which Southern African-Americans lived. The newspapers and, especially television, changed the nation's perspective. Mr. Roberts and Klibanoff also take pains in describing how some segregationists' editorials, such as James Kilpatrick's hate-filled screeds, were sophistry at its worst. The authors have written a truly informative and highly readable aspect of the Civil Rights movement that many take for granted. A great book.
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Format: Hardcover
The Civil Rights Movement of the `50s and `60s was a significant and well-known period of American history. But have you ever thought about why it is so well known, or even why it had so much success?

The Race Beat is a story, not only of the well-known players of the Civil Rights Movement, but also the men who covered it in the media. These men poured their hearts and souls into covering the stories that would make the people of the United States stand up and take notice of the injustices being done in the name of "separate but equal," "justice," and "liberty." Many of these men had battled against Hitler over his racial elitism. Once they came home, they were quick to jump into the front lines of our own battle for racial equality before we descended into the depravity that Hitler is known for.

This is a fascinating insider's look at how the civil rights battle was brought to the forefront of the United States' attention. Blending well-known events with the stories of the men who were there writing about it, you get a whole new perspective of what these men were feeling and fighting for. Not just as outside observers, but compatriots.

This book is well written and well researched, but it is slow to start. I picked it up expecting the jump into the civil rights movement, but found myself in the `40s as they laid the groundwork for what the journalists were to become. It is also heavily journalist-centric. That is to say, there are references the non-journalists among us won't understand. But all in all, it is a great read.

Armchair Interviews says: If you are looking for a new perspective on the civil rights movement, this book is for you.
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