Academic journal article Journalism History

The Rise and Fall of the Media Establishment

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Rise and Fall of the Media Establishment

Article excerpt

West, Darrell M. The Rise and Fall of the Media Establishment. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001. 176 pp. $45.

Darrell M. West, who is the Hazen White Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University, has written a lively book about the rise and fall of the media establishment. Clearly intended for a general audience rather than for academic historians or for practicing journalists, it will reinforce a reader's critical views of America's contemporary press.

In just 126 pages, West manages to create the "professional journalist" as a confused performer who has lost his or her way to objective reporting. He does not tell us about the efforts of the commercial press to establish a sense of ethical values, such as those proposed by the Society of Professional Journalists, by other media organizations, or by individual publications or broadcast media. And he is worried by the tabloid-ism of the press.

Historical research based upon incident reports is an easy trap to snare current authors. For example, West notes DNA evidence corroborates the story that Sally Hemings bore ason fathered by Thomas Jefferson, but a more careful report indicates that the son was fathered by a male in the Jefferson family line who remains unidentified. Thus, history is frequently changed by later findings and should be thought of as being temporary. …

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