Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public

Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public

by Helen Thomas
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Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public by Helen Thomas

In the course of more than sixty years spent covering Washington politics, Helen Thomas has witnessed firsthand a raft of fundamental changes in the way news is gathered and reported. Today, she sees a growing — and alarming — reluctance among reporters to question government spokesmen and probe for the truth. The result has been a wholesale failure by journalists to fulfill what is arguably their most vital role in contemporary American life — to be the watchdogs of democracy.

Here, the legendary journalist and bestselling author delivers a hard-hitting manifesto on the precipitous decline in the quality and ethics of political reportage — and issues a clarion call for change. Thomas confronts some of the most significant issues of the day and provides readers with rich historical perspective on the roots of American journalism, the circumstances attending the rise and fall of its golden age, and the nature and consequences of its current shortcomings. The book is a powerful, eye-opening discourse on the state of political reportage — as well as a welcome and inspiring demand for meaningful and lasting reform.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743267823
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 06/28/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Helen Thomas is the dean of the White House press corps. The recipient of more than forty honorary degrees, she was honored in 1998 with the inaugural Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award, established by the White House Correspondents' Association. The author of Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President; Front Row at the White House; and Dateline: White House, she lives in Washington, D.C., where she writes a syndicated column for Hearst.

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Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He nodded
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the course of her 60 year career covering the White House, Helen THOMAS has covered over 9 administrations and has had a front row seat in witnessing the changes, some good and some bad, in journalism. Woven throughout this essay on the importance of unbiased, truthful and independent reporting are personal anecdotes and comments from her experience in the White House since the Kennedy administration. These stories illustrate the changing face of journalism and the way administrations treat journalists and offered information. She highlights the important role newspapers play, or rather should play in informing the public and in enabling a true democratic process. She underlines several times that the American public is now better informed than ever with access to various media outlets and is also more misinformed than ever before, hence the subtitle 'The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public'. In her argument, because it is clearly a liberal influenced point of view, THOMAS declares that the press corps did not fulfill its' role in the post 9/11 Iraqi war timeframe. She declares that the freedom of the press has in effect been hindered by the various corporate takeovers which created media conglomerates more concerned with the bottom-line and audience than with strong reporting, by more and more direct intervention/ manipulation from the Administration (especially post 9/11) preoccupied with putting out the 'government spin', and the lack of competition for the A.P wire service. THOMAS does a very good, concise job in pointing out the situation and how the press corps seemingly has become more 'lapdogs' than watchdogs. Indeed she argues that the press is supposed to be the watchdog of democracy, the 'guardians of the peoples right to know', but has failed to do so recently, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 - even if there seems to be a sort of journalistic epiphany taking place. ' But the current reporters are a new generation covering the White House, and it's a different Administration - and both had much to learn following 9/11 and the increase of terrorism around the world.' She argues that one of the things is needed is return to 'good old-fashioned' journalistic integrity and ethics. We can only agree with her when she states in her Epilogue ' I believe that the media has to do some soul-searching to determine its role in the future after a rocky start in the 21st century.' While raising the flag for the fight for journalistic standards is necessary what THOMAS perhaps fails to do in this wake up call to journalistic integrity is to propose how to implement change since it is not possible to turn back the clock and undo the corporate takeovers, the multimedia explosion and the advent of the internet. Her argument is a starting point, it is up to us , the public, to make sure that the Press Corps follows through and to ensure that the debate does not die and therefore influences the reporters of tomorrow. For as THOMAS concludes, citing Abraham Lincoln, ' Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased Watchdogs of Democracy because I knew I would enjoy and learn from Helen Thomas once again and I was not disappointed. I read Front Row at the White House when it was published in hardcover and could not put it down. The book helps me sleep a little more peacefully at night, knowing she is at the helm watching the White House. I hope that somewhere journalists will follow in her 'Seek and Tell the Truth' history of reporting. If Iraq was photographed, reported on and the public could see the bodybags and coffins coming home like we did with Viet Nam, the war's life would be shortened.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this new book by Helen Thomas, I also got 'Remember to Laugh' by Maggie Kilgore, a friend of Helen's. Both books provide interesting insight into the careers of pioneering female journalists.