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How Free Can the Press Be?

The First Amendment to the Constitution states that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press, but the definitions of "press," of "freedom," and even of "abridgment" have evolved by means of judicial rulings on cases concerning the limits and purposes of press freedoms. _x000B__x000B_In How Free Can the Press Be? Randall P. Bezanson explores the changes in understanding of press freedom in America by discussing in depth nine of the most pivotal and provocative First Amendment cases in U.S. judicial history. These cases were argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, state Supreme Courts, and even a local circuit court, and concerned matters ranging from The New York Times's publication of the Pentagon Papers to Hugo Zacchini, the human cannonball who claimed television broadcasts of his act threatened his livelihood. Other cases include a politician blackballed by the Miami Herald and prevented from responding in its pages, the Pittsburgh Press arguing it had the right to employ gender-based column headings in its classified ads section, and the victim of a crime suing the Des Moines Register over that paper's publication of intimate details, including the victim's name. Each case resulted in a ruling that refined or reshaped judicial definition of the limits of press freedom._x000B__x000B_Does the First Amendment give the press a special position under the law? Is editorial judgment a cornerstone of the press? Does the press have a duty to publish truth and fact, to present both sides of a story, to respect the privacy of individuals, to obtain its information through legally acceptable means? How does press freedom weigh against national security? Bezanson addresses these and other questions, examining the arguments on both sides, and using these landmark cases as a springboard for a wider discussion of the meaning and limits of press freedom.

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How Happy to Call Oneself a Turk

Provincial Newspapers and the Negotiation of a Muslim National Identity

By Gavin D. Brockett

The modern nation-state of Turkey was established in 1923, but when and how did its citizens begin to identify themselves as Turks? Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s founding president, is almost universally credited with creating a Turkish national identity through his revolutionary program to “secularize” the former heartland of the Ottoman Empire. Yet, despite Turkey’s status as the lone secular state in the Muslim Middle East, religion remains a powerful force in Turkish society, and the country today is governed by a democratically elected political party with a distinctly religious (Islamist) orientation. In this history, Gavin D. Brockett takes a fresh look at the formation of Turkish national identity, focusing on the relationship between Islam and nationalism and the process through which a “religious national identity” emerged. Challenging the orthodoxy that Atatürk and the political elite imposed a sense of national identity from the top down, Brockett examines the social and political debates in provincial newspapers from around the country. He shows that the unprecedented expansion of print media in Turkey between 1945 and 1954, which followed the end of strict, single-party authoritarian government, created a forum in which ordinary people could inject popular religious identities into the new Turkish nationalism. Brockett makes a convincing case that it was this fruitful negotiation between secular nationalism and Islam—rather than the imposition of secularism alone—that created the modern Turkish national identity.

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If It Ain't Broke, Break It

How Corporate Journalism Killed the Arkansas Gazette

The Arkansas Gazette, under the independent local ownership of the Heiskell/Patterson family, was one of the most honored newspapers of twentieth-century American journalism, winning two Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of the Little Rock Central Crisis. But wounds from a fierce newspaper war against another local owner—Walter Hussman and his Arkansas Democrat—combined with changing economic realities, led to the family’s decision to sell to the Gannett Corporation in 1986.

Whereas the Heiskell/Patterson family had been committed to quality journalism, Gannett was focused on the bottom line. The corporation shifted the Gazette’s editorial focus from giving readers what they needed to be engaged citizens to informing them about what they should do in their leisure time. While in many ways the chain trivialized the Gazette’s mission, the paper managed to retain its superior quality. But financial concerns made the difference in Arkansas’s ongoing newspaper war. As the head of a privately held company, Hussman had only himself to answer to, and he never flinched while spending $42 million in his battle with the Pattersons and millions more against Gannett. Gannett ultimately lost $108 million during its five years in Little Rock; Hussman said his losses were far less but still in the tens of millions.

Gannett had to answer to nervous stockholders, most of whom had no tie to, or knowledge of, Arkansas or the Gazette. For Hussman, the Arkansan, the battle had been personal since at least 1978. It is no surprise that the corporation blinked first, and the Arkansas Gazette died on October 18, 1991, the victim of corporate journalism.

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The Improbable First Century of Cosmopolitan Magazine

James Landers

 

Today, monthly issues of Cosmopolitan magazine scream out to readers from checkout counters and newsstands. With bright covers and bold, sexy headlines, this famous periodical targets young, single women aspiring to become the quintessential “Cosmo girl.” Cosmopolitan is known for its vivacious character and frank, explicit attitude toward sex, yet because of its reputation, many people don’t realize that the magazine has undergone many incarnations before its current one, including family literary magazine and muckraking investigative journal, and all are presented in The Improbable First Century of Cosmopolitan Magazine. The book boasts one particularly impressive contributor: Helen Gurley Brown herself, who rarely grants interviews but spoke and corresponded with James Landers to aid in his research.

 

            When launched in 1886, Cosmopolitan was a family literary magazine that published quality fiction, children’s stories, and homemaking tips. In 1889 it was rescued from bankruptcy by wealthy entrepreneur John Brisben Walker, who introduced illustrations and attracted writers such as Mark Twain, Willa Cather, and H. G. Wells. Then, when newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst purchased Cosmopolitan in 1905, he turned it into a purveyor of exposé journalism to aid his personal political pursuits. But when Hearst abandoned those ambitions, he changed the magazine in the 1920s back to a fiction periodical featuring leading writers such as Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, and William Somerset Maugham. His approach garnered success by the 1930s, but poor editing sunk Cosmo’s readership as decades went on. By the mid-1960s executives considered letting Cosmopolitan die, but Helen Gurley Brown, an ambitious and savvy businesswoman, submitted a plan for a dramatic editorial makeover. Gurley Brown took the helm and saved Cosmopolitan by publishing articles about topics other women’s magazines avoided. Twenty years later, when the magazine ended its first century, Cosmopolitan was the profit center of the Hearst Corporation and a culturally significant force in young women’s lives.

 

            The Improbable First Century of Cosmopolitan Magazine explores how Cosmopolitan survived three near-death experiences to become one of the most dynamic and successful magazines of the twentieth century. Landers uses a wealth of primary source materials to place this important magazine in the context of history and depict how it became the cultural touchstone it is today. This book will be of interest not only to modern Cosmo aficionadas but also to journalism students, news historians, and anyone interested in publishing.

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The Improbable Life of the Arkansas Democrat

An Oral History

The Improbable Life of the Arkansas Democrat collects over one hundred interviews with employees of the Democrat, including editors, reporters, feature writers, cartoonists, circulation managers, business managers, salespeople, pressroom managers, typesetters, and others, from the 1930s through the early 1990s, when the Democrat took over the Arkansas Gazette after an aggressive newspaper war.

This new addition to Arkansas journalism history provides vivid details about what it was like to work at the old Democrat. August Engel, who led the paper with focused devotion for forty-two years, was famous for his thrift, allowing no air conditioning in the newsroom, and paying sub-par wages. In spite of these conditions, there are tales here of dedicated journalism professionals endeavoring to do good work. Readers who remember the final acrimony between the two papers may be surprised to learn that for many years the Democrat and the Gazette owners operated under a tacit agreement of civility. The papers didn’t hire each other’s staff, for example, and when a fire broke out in the Gazette pressroom, Democrat management offered the use of its press. Staffers recall that when the Gazette struggled with an advertising boycott and reduced circulation during the Little Rock Central High crisis because of its perceived progressive editorial stance, which infuriated many Arkansans, the Democrat did less than it might have to capitalize.

The eventual newspaper war saw the end of any semblance of civility when the Democrat hired an aggressive and infamous managing editor named John Robert Starr who began giving away classified ads, printing more news, and changing publication from evening to morning. Through these firsthand stories of those who lived it, The Improbable Life of the Arkansas Democrat tells the story of how the number-two paper became the unlikely number one, forever changing not only Arkansas journalism but also Arkansas history.

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In Defence of Press Freedom in Africa: An Essay

Tatah Mentan

When Africa stumbled into independence in the 1960s, the blossoming of newspapers of nearly every political persuasion was widely hailed as a critical stepping stone toward true multiparty democracy. However, rather than marking a clean break with an authoritarian past, the era of multiparty politics in Africa has been a time of increased hardship and repression for journalists who dare criticize powerful incumbents. Media repression continues to rise. After decades of retreat, authoritarian regimes are using social media and other sophisticated systems in a new era of repression to thwart democracy and trample human rights. For consecutive decades, the state of freedom has declined � more people in more places face more repression. While systemic torture in war-torn Somalia and the return of a military dictatorship in Egypt captured headlines, there is also widespread, insidious and 21st-century style surveillance elsewhere with abuse or imprisonment or both of political activists. For the media to play its role as priests of democracy, Tatah Mentan maintains that media freedom must be rigorously defended as integral to the democratic way of life.

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Incisive Journalism in Cameroon

The Best of Cameroon Report' (1978 - 1986)

Working for Cameroon state-owned Radio in the 1970s and ë80s meant toeing the official line and learning not to sing out of tune. While the rather scanty private press that existed at the time was subject to prior censorship, a different kind of censorship ñ self-censorship prevailed at the Radio where topics for commentaries were vetted by the Minister of Information or his delegate. But for Anglophones working in a predominantly francophone environment, once topics were approved, the authorities could not be sure which direction commentaries were going to take as the journalists applied the tactics of ëbite and blowí, sometimes giving full expression of their Anglo-Saxon spirit of debate and critical analysis as evidenced in this selection of commentaries from the Sunday morning commentary programme, ìCameroon Reportî (now ìCameroon Callingî) of the late 1970ís up till 1986. It is a showcase of the irrepressible seed of freedom of expression that Anglophone journalists were imbued with and demonstrated at a time when subjects related to coups díÈtat, human rights and governance were considered taboo. It was and shall remain the indelible input of the Anglophone character that has had a positive influence on Cameroonís media landscape.

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Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, Part 1

Ken Wachsberger

This enlightening book offers a collection of histories of underground papers from the Vietnam Era as written and told by key staff members of the time. Their stories (as well as those to be included in Part 2, forthcoming) represent a wide range of publications: counterculture, gay, lesbian, feminist, Puerto Rican, Native American, Black, socialist, Southern consciousness, prisoner's rights, New Age, rank-and-file, military, and more. The edition includes forewords by former Chicago Seed editor Abe Peck, radical attorney William M. Kunstler, and Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, along with an introductory essay by Ken Wachsberger.
     Wachsberger notes that the underground press not only produce a few well-known papers but also was truly national and diverse in scope. His goal is to capture the essence of "the countercultural community."
     A fundamental resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of a dramatic era in U.S. history.

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Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, Part 2

Ken Wachsberger

This enlightening book offers a collection of histories of underground papers from the Vietnam Era as written and told by key staff members of the time. Their stories, building on those presented in Part 1, represent a wide range of publications: countercultural, gay, lesbian, feminist, Puerto Rican, Native American, Black, socialist, Southern consciousness, prisoners’ rights, New Age, rank-and-file, military, and more. Wachsberger notes that the underground press not only produced a few well-known papers but also was truly national and diverse in scope. His goal is to capture the essence of “the countercultural community.” This book will be a fundamental resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of a dramatic era in U.S. history, as well as offering a younger readership a glimpse into a generation of idealists who rose up to challenge and improve government and society.

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Intertextuality and the 24-Hour News Cycle

A Day in the Rhetorical Life of Colin Powell's U.N. Address

On a cold Wednesday morning in February 2003 Colin Powell argued before the United Nations Security Council that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction. Before the speech, nearly 90 percent of Americans reported that Powell’s speech would help them determine their view about invading Iraq. In the days after the speech, a strong majority of Americans reported that they found Powell’s evidence convincing enough to justify war. But most American adults did not watch Powell’s speech. Instead, they learned about it from journalists—and to a large extent formed their opinions about war with Iraq based on news coverage of his address. In Intertextuality and the 24-Hour News Cycle John Oddo investigates the “rhetorical life” of Colin Powell’s address as it was extended across several media reports. Focusing on one day of pre- and postspeech news coverage, Oddo examines how journalists influenced Powell’s presentation— precontextualizing and recontextualizing his speech, and prepositioning and repositioning audiences to respond to it. The book surveys a variety of news media (television, newspaper, and Internet) and systematically integrates several methodological approaches (critical, rhetorical, discourse-analytic, and multimodal). This revealing text shows the decisive role that journalists played in shaping American attitudes about Powell, his presentation, and the desirability of war in Iraq.

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