Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy

Overview

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 ...

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Losing the News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy

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Overview

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

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Editorial Reviews

Harold Evans
Amid the hubbub about how we will get the news if newspapers keep drowning in the wrong color of ink, Alex offers a passionate but lucid analysis of where we are and where we might be going.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize journalist Jones (coauthor of The Patriarch) argues that the demise of the newspaper industry is corroding the "iron core of information that is at the center of a functioning democracy." Increasingly, he contends, what is passed off as news is actually entertainment; puff pieces have replaced the investigative reporting that allows citizens to make informed decisions. "We seem poised to be a nation overfed but undernourished, a culture of people waddling around, swollen with media exposure, and headed toward an epidemic of social diabetes," he writes. Sifting through a history of the media that touches on such technological improvements as the Gutenberg press and the telegraph, Jones focuses on the Internet and the damage he believes it has wrought on print newspapers. Weaving in the story of his own family's small newspaper in Tennessee, Jones presents an insider's look at an industry in turmoil, calling plaintively for a serious examination of what a nation loses when its newspapers fold. Unfortunately, he offers few answers for saving print journalism, but his compelling narrative will incite some readers to drum up solutions of their own. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
With newspapers and other print news media struggling with declining profits, shrinking advertising revenue, dropping circulation, and staff layoffs, the future of print journalism is uncertain. Jones (director, Shorenstein Ctr. on the Press, Harvard), who covered the press for the New York Times, examines what it would mean if news reporting disappeared. Jones argues that the news has an "iron core" central to a functioning democracy. Investigative reporting is a key component of this core, which includes coverage of international affairs, politics, public affairs and government policies at all levels, and business; the resulting news serves as the basis for a range of other journalistic activities, including opinion writing, blogging, and entertainment. Jones draws on his family's experience as owners of the Greeneville (TN) Sun to illustrate what he calls the public-service mission that distinguishes print journalism from other businesses. If this mission is replaced by profit, he sees little hope for or value in saving newspapers. VERDICT The changing media landscape is a hot topic, and this book adds to that conversation, although it does not offer concrete solutions. Worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the fate of print journalism.—Judy Solberg, Seattle Univ. Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199754144
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/21/2011
  • Series: Institutions of American Democracy Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 796,219
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex S. Jones is one of the nation's most frequently cited authorities on media issues. He covered the press for The New York Times from 1983 to 1992 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. For the past eight years he has been Director of Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and is the Laurence M. Lombard Lecturer in the Press and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is co-author with Susan E. Tifft of The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty and The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times , which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award. He has been host of National Public Radio's On The Media, and host and executive editor of PBS's Media Matters .

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Table of Contents

Preface: Updated Preface for Paperback Edition Prologue: The Crisis Chapter 1: The Iron Core Chapter 2: Media and Democracy Chapter 3: Objectivity's Last Stand Chapter 4: Media Ethics- The Painful Balance Chapter 5: My Family's Story Chapter 6: The Curious History of the News Business Chapter 7: The Fragile First Amendment Chapter 8: The Newspaper Question Chapter 9: The New News Media Chapter 10: Preserving The Core

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The news we need

    Alex Jones is the best of guides to the current multiple crises of the news business. At the center of his concern is the essential news, the information and the search for truth that are crucial to the functioning of robust democratic institutions.

    Jones makes sense of a wide range of complicated issues: the relation of the media to democracy; the fragility of the First Amendment and of its protections for the citizens' right to know about the decisions that affect their lives; the difficulties and the uses of objectivity; and the multiple dimensions of media ethics. He does so partly by telling stories - history that reaches back for over two centuries, stories of the small town paper in Tennessee owned by his remarkable family, and essential chapters of the media history of the past four decades.

    The challenge of the electronic media to the newspaper business may ultimately drastically reduce the role of newspapers in American life. But Jones points out that many newspapers have already severely reduced their commitment to generating the "accountability news," the reports we need about government and power at all levels.

    This is an engaging book, and a profoundly fair one. We are in his debt.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

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    Very interesting book

    Great insight into the history of the news and how it has changed over time. Alex Jones is a great writer and clearly explains his analysis of why news must change.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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