ERIC Number: ED203333
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The Purposes of the Press: A Re-Interpretation of American Journalism History.
Whitby, Gary; Sloan, William David
The study of United States journalism history has been dominated by an interpretation founded on the idea of progress. This interpretation is based on the assumption that the essential characteristics of the press are thorough, fast, accurate news reporting; enlightened, effective presentation of opinion; entertainment; and press independence and responsibility. It holds that journalism history has been developing continually and inevitably to this ultimate condition. This confidence in developmental progress has accounted for the lack of diversity among historians and has been responsible for most of the major interpretative fallacies. Because of the dominance of the progress interpretation, the study of journalism history has grown stagnant, and because it attempts to explain journalism history by contemporary conditions, it has created a narrow, superficial, and distorted picture. This view needs to be corrected, and one way to do this is to adopt an interpretation of journalism history that is based on the fact that the press at different periods has served different purposes and that those purposes were a result of the philosophies that have dominated American intellect and culture at different times. Approaching the history of journalism from the perspective of press purposes should help create an understanding of the essential nature of the press, provide new insights, and encourage fresh explanations. (FL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Journalism History; Media Role
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (64th, East Lansing, MI, August 8-11, 1981).