What Are Journalists For?

Jay Rosen

View Inside Price: $55.50


November 10, 1999
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300078237
Cloth

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American journalists in the 1990s confronted disturbing trends—an erosion of trust in the news media, weakening demand for serious news, flagging interest in politics and civic affairs, and a discouraging public climate that seemed to be getting worse. In response, some news professionals sought to breach the growing gap between press and public with an experimental approach—public journalism. This book is an account of the movement for public journalism, or civic journalism, told by Jay Rosen, one of its leading developers and defenders. Rosen recalls the events that led to the movement’s founding and gives a range of examples of how public journalism is practiced in American newsrooms. He traces the intellectual roots of the movement and shows how journalism can be made vital again by rethinking exactly what journalists are for.

Those who have supported the cause of public journalism have focused on first principles: democracy as something we do, citizens as the ones who do it, politics as public problem-solving, and deliberation as a means to that end. Rosen tells what happened as the movement gained momentum in newsrooms around the country and in the professional culture of the press. He reviews the flood of criticism and commentary aimed at public journalism and responds to those who express alarm at the experiment. Examining the mark that the movement has made on the field, Rosen upholds public journalism not only as a way for journalists to find a renewed sense of civic purpose for their craft, but also as a way to improve civic life and strengthen democracy.

Jay Rosen is associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, New York University and former director of the Kettering Foundation’s Project on Public Life and the Press.

“Rosen is an innovative and sophisticated thinker. His compelling book is destined to become the classic statement on public journalism.”—Clifford Christians, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"In this book, which chronicles several battles over the future of the press, Jay Rosen shows why his ideas are sure to play an important part in the press's rediscovery of its role."—James Fallows, author of Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy

“Jay Rosen is sensitive to the culture of the newsroom and the conditions under which journalists labor. He is sensitive as well to the richness and diversity of journalism as it has developed over 350 years.”—James W. Carey, Columbia University

“This persuasive book deals with an important but controversial topic for all journalists as we enter the twenty-first century. ”—Joel Kaplan, Newhouse School of Public Communications

“At last we have a full scale, beautifully written account of the origin, growth and meaning of 'public journalism' by the man who knows more about it than anyone else. With the publication of What Are Journalists For?, Jay Rosen joins the conversation started by Walter Lippmann and John Dewey earlier in the century and provides some answers we will need in the coming one."—Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death

"At last, we have a full scale, beautifully written account of the origin, growth and meaning of 'public journalism' by the man who knows more about it than anyone else. The book is about nothing less than how we will talk to ourselves about our problems; that is, about the future of democratic discourse. With the publication of What are Journalists For?, Jay Rosen joins the conversation started by Walter Lippman and John Dewy earlier in the century, and provides some answers we will need in the coming one."—Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death

"With this book, Jay Rosen makes a major contribution to our political culture. Every aspiring journalist—and every entrenched editor—should read What are Journalists For? to discover how American journalism can heal itself by helping to heal our democracy."—Osborn Elliot, former editor-in-chief of Newsweek

“Every aspiring journalist—and every entrenched editor—should read What Are Journalists For? to discover how American journalism can heal itself by helping to heal our democracy.”—Osborn Elliott, former editor-in-chief of Newsweek

“Jay Rosen is the intellectual force behind the civic journalism movement, and this remarkable book is the best statement yet of civic journalism’s philosophy, promise, and problems. A must read.”—Thomas E. Patterson, Harvard University, author of Out of Order

“Rosen writes with surprising verve. . . . Yale has published a surprisingly jargon-free book. Most previous books about the pros and cons of the public journalism movement have been aimed primarily at journalists themselves. Rosen’s book is different.”—Choice

"Rosen writes with surprising verve. . . . Most previous books about the pros and cons of the public journalism movement have been aimed primarily at journalists themselves. Rosen's book is different."—Steve Weinberg, Christian Science Monitor

“Passionate, thought-provoking book on the genesis of public journalism. . . . Rosen’s book is a thorough, readable journey through the history and principles of public journalism.”—Ronald Bishop, Journal of Communication

"This book describes the 10-year history of a hotly debated if slightly fuzzy experiment, variously called public or civic journalism. Its advocates want to transform how journalists report on campaigns and public issues by paying greater attention to what ordinary citizens say they are interested in. . . . A valuable addition to a meager list of books that take journalism seriously."—Tom Goldstein, New York Times Book Review

“An account of an academic’s philosophical excursions into the newsroom. . . . Rosen writes with an apostolic zeal. Providing us the refreshingly jargon-free manifesto of public journalism, he proceeds in a spirit of fairness—and at formidable length—to record both those successes and the criticisms of its myriad detractors.”—Tracy Lee Simmons, Washington Post