The Press in Times of Crisis

The Press in Times of Crisis

The Press in Times of Crisis

The Press in Times of Crisis

Synopsis

Throughout American history, the press has been incredibly adept at making the public aware. The history of the press in crisis situations is in many ways the story of public attitudes and the story of America. This book looks at the press over time and the way it has functioned in times of crisis. It considers press coverage of 13 events, spanning a time frame that includes the birth of the nation, its political, economic, and social struggles as a young country, and its civil war. It tells how a young agrarian society grew into an industrial giant, and how it changed from isolationist to a world power. It relates how this country coped with the growth of socialism, two world wars, civil unrest, and with the problem of world overpopulation.

Excerpt

History shows that what we think about, we talk about and take action on--and change usually ensues. the change may not occur in ways we expect or be in our best interests. But change is often the residue of public awareness, and the press has always been incredibly adept at making us aware, if only for brief snatches of time. the history of the press in times of crisis is in many ways the story of public attitudes. and if nothing else is true, the history of a democracy can be traced through the attitudes and beliefs of the populace. the story--the countless stories--of the American press in conflict is the story of America.

This book is about the press coverage of 13 events that span a time frame that includes the birth of the United States; its political, economic, and social struggles as a young country; and its civil war. It tells how a young agrarian society grew into an industrial giant in the course of one century and how it changed from isolationist to world power in the next. It relates how this country coped with the growth of socialism, two world wars, and civil unrest. It concludes with perhaps the most important story that has never been told, at least in full, in the United States or anywhere else.

Throughout American history, the press has performed various functions. At the end of the colonial period, it served as a vehicle of discussion, then debate, and finally agitation. in the process, it may also have defined itself and laid a groundwork for its role(s) in future crises. Sometimes it has led public opinion, sometimes it has mirrored attitudes, and sometimes it has set its agenda after public opinion has crystallized. the press has agitated, advocated, persuaded. It has been duped, it has been unfair, and it has misled. There have been times when the press has served as the people's watchdog of the government and times when it has acted as the government's passive lapdog.

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