Academic journal article The Journalism Educator

Books -- Ruthless Criticism: New Perspectives in U.S. Communications History Edited by William S. Solomon and Robert W. McChesney

Academic journal article The Journalism Educator

Books -- Ruthless Criticism: New Perspectives in U.S. Communications History Edited by William S. Solomon and Robert W. McChesney

Article excerpt

One of the more problematic and interesting difficulties with all communications history is the systemically anti-historical nature of journalism itself. The craft of history, for example, typically requires its practitioners to start with a premise: the journalist, in contrast, is duty-bound to abhor a premise. As a result, any intellectually rigorous attempt to square the circle between history and journalism is, perforce, something of an high-wire act--balance is everything. So it is perhaps a measure of the elegance and force of this anthology assembled by Rutgers' William Solomon and Robert McChesney of Wisconsin at Madison, that it succeeds with nary a nod toward conventional notions of historical disinterest and dispassion.

The volume contains 14 essays, and it includes the work of many of the most insightful and provocative scholars currently addressing issues related to the sociocultural history of the media. For instance, John Nerone's study of the rise of the popular press in early-19th century Cincinnati, an essay by Gerald Baldasty on the commodification of news in the 1880s and 1890s, and more contemporarily, Lynn Spigel's examination of children's television, are all representative examples of the collection's originality of argument and clarity of scholarly purpose.

The heart of the book's value as a teaching text arises from its intentionally contrarian perspective. …

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