In this pathbreaking book, Rodger Streitmatter takes the reader on a sightseeing tour of American history as influenced by the public press, visiting fifteen landmark events in US history, from the American Revolution and the struggle for women’s rights to the civil rights movement and Watergate. These are events that stir the political imagination; but, as Streitmatter shows, they also demonstrate how American journalism, since the 1760s, has not merely recorded this nation’s history but has played a role in shaping it. This book is the first of its kind. Streitmatter avoids the mind-numbing lists of names, dates, and newspaper headlines that bog down the standard journalism history textbook. Instead, he focuses on a limited number of episodes, identifying common characteristics within the news media. The second edition includes an entirely new chapter on the news media’s coverage of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and illustrates how that coverage, or lack of coverage, had a profound effect on the events that followed, including the path to war in Iraq. This new edition also looks beyond traditional journalistic outlets such as newspapers and television news reports and examines the modern-day role that the Internet and its various venues play in reporting the news and shaping history.
Rodger Streitmatter teaches at the School of Communication at the American University in Washington, DC. His the author of Raising Her Voice: African-American Women Journalists Who Changed History and Voices of Revolution: The Dissident Press in America.