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American democracy was founded on the belief that ultimate power rests in an informed citizenry. But that belief appears naive in an era when private corporations manipulate public policy and the individual citizen is dwarfed by agencies, special interest groups, and other organizations that have a firm grasp on real political and economic power. In Democracy and the News, one of America's most astute social critics explores the crucial link between a weakened news media and weakened democracy. Building on his 1979 classic media critique Deciding What's News, Herbert Gans shows how, with the advent of cable news networks, the internet, and a proliferation of other sources, the role of contemporary journalists has shrunk, as the audience for news moves away from major print and electronic media to smaller and smaller outlets. Gans argues that journalism also suffers from assembly-line modes of production, with the major product being publicity for the president and other top political officials, the very people citizens most distrust. In such an environment, investigative journalism--which could offer citizens the information they need to make intelligent critical choices on a range of difficult issues--cannot flourish. But Gans offers incisive suggestions about what the news media can do to recapture its role in American society and what political and economic changes might move us closer to a true citizen's democracy. Touching on questions of critical national importance, Democracy and the News sheds new light on the vital importance of a healthy news media for a healthy democracy.
The centrality of the news media to contemporary politics demands that performance of political journalism in New Zealand is scrutinized and its function vigorously debated.
-- Scott L. Althaus, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics
In Losing the News, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex S. Jones offers a probing look at the epochal changes sweeping the media, changes which are eroding the core news that has been the essential food supply of our democracy. At a time of dazzling technological innovation, Jones says that what stands to be lost is the fact-based reporting that serves as a watchdog over government, holds the powerful accountable, and gives citizens what they need. In a tumultuous new media era, with cutthroat competition and panic over profits, the commitment of the traditional news media to serious news is fading. Indeed, as digital technology shatters the old economic model, the news media is making a painful passage that is taking a toll on journalistic values and standards. Journalistic objectivity and ethics are under assault, as is the bastion of the First Amendment. Jones characterizes himself not as a pessimist about news, but a realist. The breathtaking possibilities that the web offers are undeniable, but at what cost? Pundits and talk show hosts have persuaded Americans that the crisis in news is bias and partisanship. Not so, says Jones. The real crisis is the erosion of the iron core of news, something that hurts Republicans and Democrats alike. Losing the News depicts an unsettling situation in which the American birthright of fact-based, reported news is in danger. But it is also a call to arms to fight to keep the core of news intact. Praise for the hardcover: "Thoughtful." --New York Times Book Review "An impassioned call to action to preserve the best of traditional newspaper journalism." --The San Francisco Chronicle "Must reading for all Americans who care about our country's present and future. Analysis, commentary, scholarship and excellent writing, with a strong, easy-to-follow narrative about why you should care, makes this a candidate for one of the best books of the year." --Dan Rather
Have new communications technologies revitalised the public sphere, or become the commercial tool for an increasingly un-public, undemocratic news media? Are changing journalistic practices damaging the nature of news, or are new media allowing journalists to do more journalism and to engage the public more effectively? With massive changes in the media environment and its technologies, interrogating the nature of news journalism is one of the most urgent tasks we face in defining the public interest today. The implications are serious, not just for the future of the news, but also for the practice of democracy. In a thorough empirical investigation of journalistic practices in different news contexts, New Media, Old News explores how technological, economic and social changes have reconfigured news journalism, and the consequences of these transformations for a vibrant democracy in our digital age. The result is a piercing examination of why understanding news journalism matters now more than ever. It is essential reading for students and scholars of journalism and new media.

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