The Idea of Public Journalism
Edited by Theodore L. Glasser
The Guilford Press, 1999, 229 pp.,
ISBN 1-57230-460, Price $41.50
Reviewed by Antoine Tedesco
The notion seems somewhat alien to most readers of the news, but
there is a controversial movement afoot: Public Journalism, aimed
at getting the press to not only report on events, but become a
vital part of promoting, and yes even improving the quality of public
Society has always been a bit suspicious of the press, and in many
ways has lost confidence in what is and what is not considered news.
Not taking a stance either for or against public journalism, the
book presents both the promise and the problems in changing the
way the dissemination of news works. Thirteen different contributors
argue within a broad cultural, historical, and philosophical framework
the notion that the media need not only offer or illustrate the
trials of the day but become a vehicle for positive change.
If the notion is still a bit vague, "Chapter 2: The Action
of the Idea", written by Jay Rosen, an associate professor
of journalism and mass communication at New York University, attempts
to define what public journalism is:
Public journalism is an approach to the daily business of the
craft that calls on journalists to (1) address people as citizens,
potential participants in public affairs, rather than victims or
spectators; (2) help the political community act upon, rather than
just learn about, its problems; (3) improve the climate of public
discussion, rather than simply watch it deteriorate; and (4) help
make public life go well, so that it earns its claim on our attention.
One might say, it's a rally call: "Power to the public!"
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