Roger Mudd and me: Our lists of the 5 best books on journalism could not be more different 4/6/08Posted by Steve Boriss in JournalismBooks.
The only surprise between my list of the 5 best books on journalism and that of veteran newsman Roger Mudd is that we do have one book in common. Of course, he actually agrees with the book’s content, while I use it to illustrate to my students exactly what is wrong with the way journalists think in the “Future of News” class I teach at Washington University in St. Louis. I’m not kidding.
My 5 favorite books are: 1) A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell. Not a book on journalism at all, but one that explains the difference between left and right political ideology. No journalist should ever claim to be objective until they have read this book, and no journalist would ever think to make this claim after finishing it; 2) Liberty and the News by Walter Lippmann. This is the book whose wacky ideas started the “modern journalism” movement, unnecessarily causing our nation a century of suffering. Learn how a rough-and-tumble craft called “journalism” came to falsely present itself as a scientific profession that delivered singular truths using objective methods backed by a process of verification.
Continuing: 3) The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel. This book that Mudd also included on his list is as close to modern journalism scripture as there is, yet somehow manages to present the field as a cult. The authors seem oblivious to their own contradictions, and leave the reader believing there is no such thing as truth, objectivity, or the discipline of verification; 4) Bias by Bernard Goldberg. This book by a former CBS reporter gave permission for all to believe that the media are biased, which all but journalists now do; and 5) The History of News from the Drum to the Satellite by Mitchell Stephens. While this book reveals its NYU professor-author to be a man with brilliant insights into news past, I’ve recently learned that he has abandoned writing books on news, and instead now writes about atheism. Perhaps the decline of Old Media has left him believing that there is no God. Funny, but it had convinced me that there was. (H/T: Garry Rains, Larry Hallas)