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Discovering The News: A Social History Of American Newspapers

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  9 reviews
This instructive and entertaining social history of American newspapers shows that the very idea of impartial, objective “news” was the social product of the democratization of political, economic, and social life in the nineteenth century. Professor Schudson analyzes the shifts in reportorial style over the years and explains why the belief among journalists and readers ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 13th 1981 by Basic Books (first published 1978)
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Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Excellent social history of the news, with a particularly insightful discussion of the invention of "objectivity" in U.S. journalism. In tracing the history of an idea, Schudson challenges the assumption that objectivity in journalism has always existed and that is always worth striving for.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
This is as the title suggests as history of American newspapers from the early days of independence when newspapers tended to be printed almost exclusively for commercial interests, e.g. shipping arrivals, departures & lading & local commercial messages. It details the successive interpretations of what purpose newspapers served & how journalism was defined which to a large extent consisted of the variation from "just the facts: who or what, where, & when" to the need for context ...more
Joe Amditis
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every single journalism student and media-minded person should be required to read this book. It is a brilliant, timely, and expansive social history of journalism as an industry and as a social institution. Many, if not all, of the problems and issues that have discussed and debated in recent years are either mentioned or addressed in this prophetic work by Schudson.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit thin in several sections of chapters, the book makes some compelling claims and fills in some important gaps in our understanding of the social history of newspapers.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a seminal work on the history of news. It is a crucial work these days when people are asking about fake news.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very dry read that never redeemed itself.
John Biers
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's useful to look back at a time of great change in journalism. One of the most useful sections describes Walter Lippmann's role in the establishment of the objectivity standard that has defined modern US journalism.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A goldmine of info on the creation of modern concepts of news and its ties to middle class identity.
Jan 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Schudson is a phenomenal sociologist and makes such compelling points about the nature of objectivity and the role newspapers played in the development of our cities.
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Michael Schudson grew up in Milwaukee, Wisc. He received a B.A. from Swarthmore College and M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard. He taught at the University of Chicago from 1976 to 1980 and at the University of California, San Diego from 1980 to 2009. From 2005 on, he split his teaching between UCSD and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, becoming a full-time member of the ...more
“Objectivity, in this sense, means that a person's statements about the world can be trusted if they are submitted to established rules deemed legitimate by a professional community. Facts here are not aspects of the world, but consensually validated statements about it.” 5 likes
“But into the first decades of the twentieth century, even at the New York Times, it was uncommon for journalists to see a sharp divide between facts and values. Yet the belief in objectivity is just this: the belief that one can and should separate facts from values. Facts, in this view, are assertions about the world open to independent validation. They stand beyond the distorting influences of any individual's personal preferences. Values, in this view, are an individual's conscious or unconscious preferences for what the world should be; they are seen as ultimately subjective and so without legitimate claim on other people. The belief in objectivity is a faith in "facts," a distrust of "values," and a commitment to their segregation.” 2 likes
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