The Troubles of Journalism: A Critical Look at What's Right and Wrong with the Press

By William A. Hachten | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 1
Best News Media in the World?

There is much to criticize about the press, but not before recognizing a ringing truth: the best of the American press is an extraordinary daily example of industry, honesty, conscience, and courage, driven by a desire to inform and interest readers.

-- Ben Bradlee ( 1996)

A major news event can occur unexpectedly somewhere in the world at any moment -- the explosion of a jet airliner in midair, a terrorist bombing of an American military facility, the assassination of a world leader, an outbreak of war in the Middle East, a major oil spill in an ecologically sensitive region.

On hearing about a major news event, millions of Americans then turn to their television sets or radio to learn more -- to CNN perhaps, or to an all-news radio station for the first details from the Associated Press (AP) or Reuters or from broadcast reporters. The evening network news shows will give a more full picture and one of the networks -- ABC on Ted Koppel's Nightline or maybe NBC or CBS -- may put together a special report later in the evening.

The next morning more complete stories with additional details will appear in more than 1,500 daily newspapers and hundreds of radio and television stations will recap the story with more developments. If the story is big enough, if it "has legs," The New York Times may devote three or four inside pages to more details, related stories, and news photos. Other major dailies may do the same.

Within a week, the news magazines, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, will publish their own versions, complete with cover stories, more background, and commentary.

-12-

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