In Losing the News, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex S. Jones offers a probing look at the epochal changes sweeping the media, changes which are eroding the core news that has been the essential food supply of our democracy.
At a time of dazzling technological innovation, Jones says that what stands to be lost is the fact-based reporting that serves as a watchdog over government, holds the powerful accountable, and gives citizens what they need. In a tumultuous new media era, with cutthroat competition and panic over profits, the commitment of the traditional news media to serious news is fading. Indeed, as digital technology shatters the old economic model, the news media is making a painful passage that is taking a toll on journalistic values and standards. Journalistic objectivity and ethics are under assault, as is the bastion of the First Amendment. Jones characterizes himself not as a pessimist about news, but a realist. The breathtaking possibilities that the web offers are undeniable, but at what cost? Pundits and talk show hosts have persuaded Americans that the crisis in news is bias and partisanship. Not so, says Jones. The real crisis is the erosion of the iron core of news, something that hurts Republicans and Democrats alike.
Losing the News depicts an unsettling situation in which the American birthright of fact-based, reported news is in danger. But it is also a call to arms to fight to keep the core of news intact.
Praise for the hardcover:
--New York Times Book Review
"An impassioned call to action to preserve the best of traditional newspaper journalism."
--The San Francisco Chronicle
"Must reading for all Americans who care about our country's present and future. Analysis, commentary, scholarship and excellent writing, with a strong, easy-to-follow narrative about why you should care, makes this a candidate for one of the best books of the year."
Pulitzer Prize journalist Jones (coauthor of The Patriarch) argues that the demise of the newspaper industry is corroding the "iron core of information that is at the center of a functioning democracy." Increasingly, he contends, what is passed off as news is actually entertainment; puff pieces have replaced the investigative reporting that allows citizens to make informed decisions. "We seem poised to be a nation overfed but undernourished, a culture of people waddling around, swollen with media exposure, and headed toward an epidemic of social diabetes," he writes. Sifting through a history of the media that touches on such technological improvements as the Gutenberg press and the telegraph, Jones focuses on the Internet and the damage he believes it has wrought on print newspapers. Weaving in the story of his own family's small newspaper in Tennessee, Jones presents an insider's look at an industry in turmoil, calling plaintively for a serious examination of what a nation loses when its newspapers fold. Unfortunately, he offers few answers for saving print journalism, but his compelling narrative will incite some readers to drum up solutions of their own.