Journalism for the 21st Century: Online Information, Electronic Databases, and the News

By Tom Koch | Go to book overview

1
The News: Myths and Realities

What is the function of contemporary news and what is the role of those who write for these public and commercial forums? In general we can say that news stories present a consistent and rational system, an abstracted interpretation derived from the chaos of a given moment and filtered through the stages of fixed, editorial necessity. The organization of the news is not ordained by reality, nor necessarily a complete description of it, but instead is artificially and fully mediated by the culture it supports. News is, in a real sense, the means by which society chooses its own reflection and, simultaneously, a culture's bulwark against the chaos of the world's events. As a socially constructed reality, news, like other institutions (law, cinema, cuisine, medicine, etc.), has a history of development that manifests a pattern of adjustment and change closely linked to events in the technological and cultural history of its community. It is, in short, a system whose rules are at least partly based on one or more modes of production within the greater society's more general pattern of historical change.

What is unclear is the degree to which this social construct currently fulfills its generally defined contract with society as a whole. Advocates (some might say apologists) of the modern press insist it functions as a watchdog of officialdom, providing a communal voice for the electorate it is

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Journalism for the 21st Century: Online Information, Electronic Databases, and the News
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Notes xxv
  • 1 - The News: Myths and Realities 1
  • Notes 51
  • 2 - Online News: Trivial, Contextual, and Structural 63
  • Notes 121
  • 3 - Transformations: Scale and Focus 129
  • Notes 176
  • 4 - Search Strategies: Electronic and Traditional 183
  • Notes 231
  • 5 - Electronic Libraries: Files, Vendors, and Databases 237
  • Notes 293
  • 6 - Conclusions 301
  • Notes 326
  • Appendix - Databases and Vendors 331
  • Selected Bibliography 341
  • Index 353
  • About the Author *
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