The Function of Newspapers in Society: A Global Perspective

The Function of Newspapers in Society: A Global Perspective

The Function of Newspapers in Society: A Global Perspective

The Function of Newspapers in Society: A Global Perspective

Synopsis

The demise of the newspaper has long been predicted. Yet newspapers continue to survive globally despite competition from radio, television, and now the Internet, because they serve core social functions in successful cultures. Initial chapters of this book provide an overview of the development of modern newspapers. Subsequent chapters examine particular societies and geographic regions to see what common traits exist among the uses and forms of newspapers and those artifacts that carry the name "newspaper" but do not meet the commonly accepted definition. The conclusion suggests that newspapers are of such core value to a successful society that a timely and easily accessible news product will succeed despite, or perhaps because of, changes in reading habits and technology.

Excerpt

John C. Merrill

At last, we have a book that shines a spotlight on newspapers, and what is more, on newspapers around the world. Most such anthologies, in my opinion, have tried to cover too much of the various media, trends, and philosophers in the vast field of mass communication. This book resists such a broad sweep and focuses on [newspapers] or what are generally called newspapers in various parts of the world.

In addition, it provides a much-needed historical setting for the newspaper press of the various world regions. This is an important feature that adds significant value to this volume. Just what is a [newspaper] ? The various contributors discuss this. I have puzzled over the meaning of [newspaper] for many years and am not sure I understand it yet. But this book helps. I do know that perhaps the term [newspaper] is really a misnomer today, for at least 80 percent of a newspaper's space is given over to non-news, such as editorials, features, pictures, puzzles, advice to the lovelorn, gossip, conjecture, letters, and so on. And, of course, there is the substantial amount of space devoted to advertising. Maybe these periodicals should just be called [papers] or something more appropriate.

Be this as it may, what we generally call newspapers do carry some news— and this is true in every country, and has been true in every age of the printing press. The contributors to this book have merged descriptive discourse with historical context, and they are all to be commended. All the major areas of the world have been covered, and the variety of newspapers have been highlighted. Little more can be expected of a book of this nature and size. In Chapter 10, two of the authors even deal with newspapers in the twenty-first century, discoursing on the directions and types of periodical reading material that will face our children and grandchildren. It is a good book and one that I, long interested in global newspaper journalism, am glad to see published.

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