A Narrative History of a Nation's Journalism
A lively history of American journalism from the colonial era to the present day
Today many believe that American journalism is in crisis, with traditional sources of news under siege from a failing business model, a resurgence of partisanship, and a growing expectation that all information ought to be free. In Covering America, Christopher B. Daly places the current crisis within a much broader historical context, showing how it is only the latest in a series of transitions that have required journalists to devise new ways of plying their trade.
Drawing on original research and synthesizing the latest scholarship, Daly traces the evolution of journalism in America from the early 1700s to the “digital revolution” of today. Analyzing the news business as a business, he identifies five major periods of journalism history, each marked by a different response to the recurrent conflicts that arise when a vital cultural institution is housed in a major private industry.
Throughout his narrative history Daly captures the ethos of journalism with engaging anecdotes, biographical portraits of key figures, and illuminating accounts of the coverage of major news events as well as the mundane realities of day-to-day reporting.
"This is grand narrative as it should be—deftly balancing nuanced and consequential portraits of individual characters (Mencken, Luce, Hearst, Winchell, Lippmann) with compelling accounts of the big developments. . . . I learned much from it and I truly enjoyed it."—Bruce Schulman, author of The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics
"Essential reading for anyone who cares about American history, media, or culture. This is a great story about the entire tradition of journalistic storytelling, told smartly and thoroughly."—Susan Orlean, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend and The Orchid Thief
"In this scholarly yet readable volume, Daly presents a surprisingly spirited and detailed account of American journalism and the many ways in which the press has impacted the trajectory of American history, and vice versa. . . . Any history book runs the risk of being bland, but Daly peppers the text with amusing anecdotes and intriguing facts. In addition to the interesting stories, Daly makes many cogent arguments about what the press has meant to the country's shared history and identity."—Publishers Weekly
"Daly provides a lively, interesting review of journalism's many personalities, events and trends. It is an excellent work of history concerning the profession and business of journalism, filled with anecdotes and intriguing facts. It surely belongs on the shelves everywhere journalism is celebrated."—Bookviews
"A handful of vintage black-and-white photographs illustrate this meticulous , methodical, and absolutely invaluable recommendation especially for public and college library collections."—Midwest Book Review
"In Covering America: A Narrative History of a Nation’s Journalism, Christopher B. Daly has written a masterful, meticulously researched work that should be celebrated by not just those in the field but every informed citizen. In this landmark account, he has brilliantly examined the economic, political and social forces that have shaped America’s media since their beginnings 'as a tiny and timid affair conducted by a handful of people in a remote backwater of the great British Empire.' . . . A professor of journalism now at Boston University, Daly spent 10 years as an AP editor and reporter and a decade at The Washington Post before moving to academia. He knows his subject inside-out (as it were). He also knows how to write — and the proof is this compelling, character-driven account filled, almost novelistically, with iconic, colorful and distinctly American characters."—Providence Journal