Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy, and the Movement for Civic Renewal

By Carmen Sirianni; Lewis Friedland | Go to book overview

FIVE
Public Journalism

Public journalism began as a series of experiments in local newspapers in the late 1980s and early 1990s and soon developed into what Michael Schudson has called “the most impressive critique of journalistic practice inside journalism in a generation” and “the best organized social movement inside journalism in the history of the American press. ” 1 Also known as civic journalism, it arose in response to a perceived failure of the press to constitute a public sphere in which citizens could understand and engage productively with public problems, rather than simply respond to election soundbites, horserace coverage, and polarized framing of issues. As it began to grow, public journalism became increasingly aware of the range of innovative civic efforts already underway in communities across the country and set out to learn from them. It has since generated an impressive array of innovative practices in newsrooms and communities and an extensive network of practitioners, educators, and organizations committed to reshaping professional and institutional norms. By the end of the 1990s, roughly half of the newspapers in America, joined by scores of commercial and public television and radio stations, had conducted experiments in civic journalism. In some cases, entire news organizations have been refashioned as self-described learning organizations committed to continuous reflection and improvement in the interests of a more robust civic democracy.

The philosophy of public journalism, as manifest in the writings of its leading theorists and practitioners, can be summarized in the following terms: Journalists must assume responsibility for helping to constitute vital publics with the usable knowledge that enables them to deliberate about complex issues and to engage in common problem solving. Because journalists invariably narrate the story of our common life in their reporting

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Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy, and the Movement for Civic Renewal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • One - Civic Innovation and American Politics 1
  • Two - Community Organizing and Development 35
  • Three - Civic Environmentalism 85
  • Four - Community Health and Civic Organizing 138
  • Five - Public Journalism 186
  • Six - The Civic Renewal Movement 234
  • Notes 281
  • Index 349
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