Brief Annotated BibliographyAnyone seeking to learn about the nature and role of modern journalism can find scores of insightful books, blogs, and other sources on the topic. Below I present a small sample of print and Web works that have directly influenced my thinking on the topic of “Journalism in Hyperpartisan Times.”
Books:Rosen, Jay (2001). What Are Journalists For? Yale University Press.
A professor at New York University, Dr. Rosen writes extensively on journalism’s relationship to citizenship. The book highlights the shortcomings of modern journalism, especially in relation to politics and civic culture, and suggests ways to fix matters.
McChesney, Robert (2000). RichMedia, Poor Democracy. The New Press.
Dr. McChesney argues that journalism in a democracy should serve three major roles: accounting of people in power, presenting diversity of opinion, and fact checking. In his book he explores the reasons why corporate media fail to fulfill those roles.
Putnam, Robert D. (2000). BowlingAlone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Simon & Schuster. (http://bowlingalone.com/)
Though not about journalism per se, Putnam’s important book demonstrates in dramatic fashion the breakdown of civic culture in the United States. An invigorated journalism is needed to help restore some sense of civic community.
Lueders, Bill (2010). Watchdog: 25 Years of Muckrakingand Rabblerousing. Jones Books.One of the most valuable players in Wisconsin journalism for many years, Bill Lueders is a champion of freedom of information and transparency. He offers stinging critiques of all public officials who dare withhold information from the public.
On the Web:
ProPublica: Journalism in the Public Interest (http://www.propublica.org/)
Winner of a 2011 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting (for a series of remarkable stories on the role of Wall St. bankers in worsening the financial crisis for their own gain), ProPublica’s mission is “To expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.”Jay Rosen’s PressThink Blog (http://pressthink.org/)
Almost every one of professor Rosen’s posts sparks important, thoughtful debate on a range of topics, including the failure of “horse race” coverage of politics and the shortcomings of “he said, she said” journalism. A persistent theme of Rosen’s is that journalists should strive not to eliminate bias from their work, but to show good, sound judgment.James Fallows (national correspondent for The Atlantic) (http://www.theatlantic.com/james-fallows/)
Mr. Fallows might be the best working journalist in America today. His writings are always well researched, thoughtful, provocative, and always lead the reader to links that further substantiate his claims.Wisconsin Center For Investigative Journalism (http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/)
Like old time muckrakers, the Center seeks to “Protect the vulnerable. Expose wrongdoing. Seek solutions to problems.” With a focus on government integrity and quality of life, the Center produces vital Badger State investigative journalism.Bruce Murphy’s Milwaukee Magazine “Murphy’s Law” Blog (http://www.insidemilwaukee.com/Blog/murphyslaw)
Bruce Murphy is probably the finest journalist in the state of Wisconsin. He’s especially good at exposing lazy journalism as it is often practiced at wide circulation publications like the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.Jim Romenesko’s Blog (http://www.poynter.org/category/latest-news/romenesko/) (In 2012 Romenesko will launch http://jimromenesko.com/
Few deliver the “news about the news” as well as Romenesko. Though now in semi-retirement, he continues to produce an invaluable blog for anyone interested in the “inside” story of American journalism.