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News and the Culture of Lying: How Journalism Really Works

News and the Culture of Lying: How Journalism Really Works

by Paul Weaver

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Weaver, a former writer and editor for Fortune magazine, here argues that ``journalists and officials fabricate an alternate reality.'' His censure of traditional journalism is itself a fairly traditional critique. His principal accusations--that the media lie by feigning objectivity, and that newsmakers lie by pretending to ignore media attention--have been voiced by numerous media critics. What distinguishes Weaver's contentions is that he frames his case in constitutional terms. To him, ``Pulitzerian journalism'' is ``an engine of drift and decline'' that obliterates the constitutional principles of law and community responsibility. The last chapter lists nine directions for pursuing constitutional journalism; among them, avoid crisis reporting and think of readers rather than advertisers. Despite such practical counsel, the book reads as a neoconservative harangue against a liberal media elite. (July)
Gilbert Taylor
Journalists crank out dozens of titles of occupational self-analysis, castigating their peers on how the next scandal, disaster, or election can be better covered or how the next newsroom hiring can be better accomplished. Weaver breaks refreshingly from this genre, insisting that the problems of the profession don't come from individual stories but from the entire system of professional journalism, with its academic trappings and claims of objectivity, and with its rewards unto itself for a crisis-and-emergency-response style of reporting. In Weaver's view, one he formed covering financial and regulatory affairs, the "pseudo-event" invented some years ago is thriving and is clearly to be seen in every media outlet. Examples abound, Weaver says. With Lewis Lapham ("The Wish for Kings", BKL My 15 93), he bemoans the "courtier spirit," that cozy credulity reporters have with officials that abets the cycle. The wisdom of Weaver's experience doesn't suggest more antagonism toward institutions, however, but less--the better to find out what they are really doing, rather than what their chiefs "say" they are doing. Cogent insights and examples that newspeople shouldn't ignore.

Product Details

Free Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.56(h) x 0.98(d)

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