Two editors from the Washington Post argue that, while there is some excellent journalism in the United States, much of it is puerile and uninformative. The nature of good journalism is discussed, with the Post and other papers held up as examples and local television news being singled out for strong opprobrium. Separate chapters examine news production at newpapers, network television stations, local stations, and on the Internet. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
For much of the 1980s and '90s, the news media were in a slump. Largely nonconsequential stories on celebrity weddings and car crashes made headlines. But on September 11, according to veteran Washington Post staffers Downie and Kaiser (executive and associate editor, respectively), things abruptly changed. "Hard news was back in the forefront," they say, and in this powerful and timely assessment of the present state of the news, the two present compelling evidence of the shaky ground newspapers and television news stand on today. By describing the profound impact the news can have (e.g., the Salt Lake Tribune's uncovering of the corruption in the bidding process for this winter's Olympic games), Downie and Kaiser prove that even in our celebrity-driven age, news does matter. They mainly focus on newspapers and television news in this succinct, unpreachy treatise, briefly skimming over the Internet and the rise of MSNBC.com and Salon.com, among other Web sites. Not surprisingly, the authors are biased toward newspapers for their unsensational, in-depth coverage of current affairs; they even suggest exercises for readers to compare television with print news. But they're not above admitting print's problems, either, namely, the increasing importance of enhancing shareholder value and the emphasis on the bottom line. Downie and Kaiser give a fairly brief yet meaningful history of newspapers and television news, juxtaposing the history with interviews with today's leading journalists, from NBC icon Tom Brokaw to former New York Times national editor Dean Baquet. This is an important, up-to-date study that should be required reading for journalism students and serious consumers of the news. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.