The American Journalist in the 1990s: U.S. News People at the End of an Era

The American Journalist in the 1990s: U.S. News People at the End of an Era

The American Journalist in the 1990s: U.S. News People at the End of an Era

The American Journalist in the 1990s: U.S. News People at the End of an Era

Synopsis

This book presents findings from the most comprehensive and representative study ever done of the demographic and educational backgrounds, working conditions, and professional and ethical values of U.S. print and broadcast journalists working in the 1990s, including separate analyses for women and minority news people. It compares many of these findings with those from the major studies of the early 1970s and 1980s. As such, it should be the standard reference on U.S. journalists for years to come.

Excerpt

It used to be said that a lot more was known about American farmers than about journalists. No occupational group is more important than the providers of much of the world's grain, but the suppliers of some of the mental foodstuff of democracy and governance are important, too.

Two decades ago, sociologist John Johnstone and his colleagues, working in America's heartland at the University of Illinois at Chicago, changed what we know about journalists. Their landmark national study of journalists in the mainstream news media gave, for the first time, a baseline of important data. The book byJohn W. C. Johnstone,Edward J. Slawski, andWilliam W. Bowman, The News People, published in 1976, will remain a durable analytical portrait of news crafters for future historians studying the uncertain democracy of late 20th- century America. Our goal -- in our first study in 1982-1983 and in our book, The American Journalist, published in 1986 -- was to build on the important groundwork laid by the Johnstone team. This was also our aim with this 1992 study and this book, published 20 years after the original Johnstone volume.

Our chief concerns here are with: (a) the role perceptions of journalists working in America's news media over the last quarter of the century; (b) the changes in the backgrounds and education of those choosing journalistic life; (c) professional attitudes, beliefs, and values of journalists; and (d) the problem of retaining the best and brightest people in journalism. In addition to providing a "third wave" of information to studies from two previous decades, this book has two new dimensions. First, the attitudes of minority journalists are assessed more deeply than previously possible. Second, the book contains more openended comments, giving a richer perspective from the journalists themselves on critical issues of quality and autonomy.

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