Patt Morrison for February 16, 2011

Losing the News

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Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images

The comedian Jon Stewart interviewing President Barack Obama

In his critically acclaimed book, Losing the News, published this month in paperback, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex S. Jones examines the transition of the news industry from a provider of fact and evidence to a network of opinion and advocacy. "We are on the brink of living in a world in which the vast majority of news is in such bite-size pieces that serious, nuanced reporting may disappear," writes Mr. Jones during the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis. "It is apparent when you pick up a thick, advertising-heavy Sunday newspaper in most American cities and can make your way through its substantive news in about five minutes." The author also takes aim at the infotainment cable news channels, at the blogosphere, and at the heart of democracy itself. Although he does acknowledge that the ultimate role of a free press is to serve as a watchdog against the abuses of government, Mr. Jones disagrees with the Wikileaks notion of an absolutely free press. When we give "license to publish military secrets, to libel anyone, or to invade anyone’s privacy" this is called "anarchy," according to Jones. Does our 24-hour-news-spin-cycle serve to confuse rather than clarify the truth? Will cable-providers and satellite companies allow us to watch Al Jazeera? Is Glenn Beck an anomaly or a harbinger of things to come? Alex Jones thinks he has the answers.

Guest:

Alex Jones, author of Losing the News; covered the press for The New York Times from 1983 to 1992 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1987; Director of Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.


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