The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism. Stuart Allen, ed. New York, NY: Routledge Publications, 2010, 642 pp.
This is an important as well as very substantial and valuable undertaking—a multi-national (and multi-author) scholarly survey of the whole academic field of journalism studies. With no fewer than fifty-six papers in seven categories, the majority written by researchers outside the United States, this is a comprehensive assessment of what we know about the fast-changing state of journalism here and abroad. Coverage is wide, indeed, such that the main section headings can only suggest the real breadth of this compilation. Documentation is thorough as well.
Allen teaches journalism at Bourne-mouth University’s media school in the United Kingdom. His contributors lean heavily to British scholars (and examples), though the overall discussion melds events and trends on both sides of the Atlantic. Among those scholars are such research-active people as Howard Tumber, Toby Miller, and Daya Kishan Thussu. But there are numerous important American scholars represented here as well, including Jim Ettema, Barbie Zelizer, Silvio Waisbord, Lance Bennett, and Herbert Gans, to name only a few.
The first section centers on “The Evolving Ideals of Journalism,” and reviews the Fourth Estate concept, continuing with papers about journalism within popular culture, the origins of objectivity in news, journalists and their professional identities, the changing (and not always improving) status of women journalists, the nearly century-old Lippmann-Dewey debate about journalism’s roles and its publics, the state of photojournalism, and changing forms of investigative reporting.
The second section, on “News and Social Agendas,” turns to the status of news in the United States, the press and public accountability, presidential politics and media spectacle, international news flow, journalism and political change in China, rethinking development journalism, radio news, and alternative journalism. Part three, “Newsmaking: Rules, Routines and Rituals,” assesses journalists as reinterpretive communities, the gatekeeping function and news selection, news sources and public relations, making up the news, the rise of autobiographical journalism, questions for sports journalism, the roles of news and local politics, convergence culture, and journalism in the network.
“Truths: Facts and Values” makes up part four and discusses news as culture, news and the emotional public sphere, race and diversity in the news, gay news narratives, the changing broadcast news interview, the tabloidization of news, TV news amidst the trend to infotainment, moving beyond the news/entertainment divide, and journalism as portrayed in the movies. Part five focuses on “Making Sense of the News,” with papers on journalism and citizenship, news audiences and the construction of public knowledge, news practices in everyday life, ethnographies of news consumption, Al-Jazeera English and its influence, news and younger people, and news and memory of public events.
“Crisis, Conflict and Controversy” papers make up part six with discussion of global crises and world news ecology, reporting the climate change crisis, news and foreign policy, photojournalism and absent images, journalism and the visual politics of war and conflict, journalists covering war crimes, and peace journalism. Finally, the last section, “Journalism’s Futures,” looks forward with papers on news in the digital age, reassessing journalism as a profession, the growing role of citizen journalists, newspapers and labor, impartiality in television news, competitive news media systems, and the studying of journalism.
Summing up, this is an impressive line-up of content, authored by dozens of the most cutting-edge academic researchers in the field, and making scores of valuable interpretive points about the state of the news process and business. This is an important addition for libraries and surely for teaching faculty and (if they can afford or borrow a copy) hopeful graduate students.
CHRISTOPHER H. STERLING
George Washington University