Publisher description for The news about the news : American journalism in peril / Leonard Downie, Jr. and Robert G. Kaiser.


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Counter From two of America’s most prominent and accomplished journalists, an impassioned investigation of an endangered species, good journalism.

Leonard Downie Jr. and Robert G. Kaiser—both reporters and editors at the Washington Post for nearly four decades—take us inside the American news media to reveal why the journalism we watch and read is so often so bad, and to explain what can be done about it.

They demonstrate how the media’s preoccupation with celebrities, entertainment, sensationalism and profits can make a mockery of news. They remind us of the value of serious journalism with inside accounts of how great stories were reported and written—a New York Times investigation of Scientology and the IRS, and a Washington Post exposé of police excesses. They recount a tense debate inside their own newsroom about whether to publicize a presidential candidate’s long-ago love affair.

They also provide surprisingly candid interviews with Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw. The authors explain why local television news is so uninformative. They evaluate news on the Internet, noting how unreliable it can be, and why it is so important to the future of the news business.

Coverage of the terrorist attacks on America in the fall of 2001 demonstrated that the news media can still do outstanding work, Downie and Kaiser write, but that does not guarantee a bright future for news. Their book makes exceedingly clear why serious, incorruptible, revelatory reporting is crucial to the health of American society if we are to be informed, equipped to make decisions and protected from the abuse of power. And it allows all of us to feel like insiders in one of America’s most powerful institutions, the media.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Journalism United States, Journalists United States Interviews