Book Review: The News Media–What Everyone Needs to Know

Pondering the past, present and future of journalism

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin, Stony Brook University School of Journalism

A book about the past, present and future of journalism and the news media sounds like a monumental and daunting undertaking. Yet, this is exactly what C. W. Anderson, Leonard Downie Jr. and Michael Schudson have written. In The News Media: What Everyone Needs To Know, released in September 2016, Downie, the former editor of The Washington Post and now a professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Schudson, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, and Anderson, an associate professor at the College of Staten Island, start with the first newspaper in 1605 and end with robots writing news stories in 2016. The authors concede in their first sentence that “[i]t might seem presumptuous to write a book promising readers ‘what everyone needs to know about the news media’ in the year 2016.” And, yet, in under 200 pages, written in a lively question and short answer format, with engaging examples, this book is highly deserving of its lofty title.

news-media-book-cover
The News Media–What Everyone Needs to Know By C.W. Anderson, Leonard Downie Jr., Michael Schudson

The genesis of the book was a comprehensive report commissioned by the Columbia University School of Journalism about the present and future of the journalism profession. That report, “The Reconstruction of American Journalism,” written by Downie and Schudson in 2009, stirred significant discussion and debate in the field. The report led to a request to the authors by the Oxford University Press to add a book about journalism to its popular “What Everyone Needs To Know” series. Oxford touts the series as offering “a balanced and authoritative primer on complex current issues and countries,” written by “leading authorities in their given fields.” The series did not previously include a title on journalism and news media. But, now, fortunately, it does. Continue reading Book Review: The News Media–What Everyone Needs to Know