Beyond News: The Future of Journalism
by Mitchell Stephens (Author)
For a century and a half, journalists made a good business out of selling the latest news or selling ads next to that news. Now that news pours out of the Internet and our mobile devices―fast, abundant, and mostly free―that era is ending. Our best journalists, Mitchell Stephens argues, instead must offer original, challenging perspectives―not just slightly more thorough accounts of widely reported events. His book proposes a new standard: “wisdom journalism,” an amalgam of the more rarified forms of reporting―exclusive, enterprising, investigative―and informed, insightful, interpretive, explanatory, even opinionated takes on current events.
This book features an original, sometimes critical examination of contemporary journalism, both on- and offline, and it finds inspiration for a more ambitious and effective understanding of journalism in examples from twenty-first-century articles and blogs, as well as in a selection of outstanding twentieth-century journalism and Benjamin Franklin’s eighteenth-century writings. Most attempts to deal with journalism’s current crisis emphasize technology. Stephens emphasizes mindsets and the need to rethink what journalism has been and might become.
About the Author
Mitchell Stephens is a professor of journalism at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Institute. His books include A History of News, named a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”; the rise of the image, the fall of the word; Journalism Unbound; Broadcast News; and Writing and Reporting the News. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Much of the research for this book was completed while Stephens was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
With his customary intelligence and brio, Mitchell Stephens argues for more ambitious, more valuable journalism. Stephens embodies the virtues of his hero Benjamin Franklin, writing with pungent wit and sharp insights. He has mined United States history for telling anecdotes showing that conventional news reporting is insufficient. He boldly makes the case that the interpretation of news could redeem both journalism and journalism professionals; moreover, since wisdom journalism both produces and requires knowledge, his vision sets the course for journalism education. (Linda Steiner, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland)
Persuasively written and filled with telling examples, Beyond News makes a powerful case for moving beyond the traditional five W’s as guidelines for journalists to the five I’s of what Stephens calls wisdom journalism: informed, intelligent, interpretive, insightful, and illuminating. (Loren Ghiglione, Northwestern University)
This engaging book tells us how journalism must change in order to better serve the times―and the public. Stephens calls for interpretation and insight, intelligence, and illumination. Beyond News offers all of these and more. Thought-provoking and a delight to read. (Geneva Overholser, senior fellow, University of Southern California, Annenberg)
Definitely of value to journalism students, this book will also appeal to those interested in access to informed perspectives and the fate of the “fourth estate.” (Library Journal)
…a feast, intelligent and candidly forthright. (Publishers Weekly)
Compelling Critique of Print Journalism
Mitchell Stephens( professor at NYU) has written an important, erudite critique of contemporary print (newspaper) journalism in order to save it from irrelevance. Losing revenue and readers/viewers (online), newspapers are fighting to survive in a media world given over to opinion, both intelligently informative and blindly partisan. He wants to update objectivity, the writing formula that insists on taking quotes from both sides, using highly-placed sources, collecting facts (who, what, where and who, rarely why) and omitting the opinion and judgment of the journalist. Just-the-facts journalism doesn’t excite readers who are left with little understanding of what the facts mean. Gathering facts and presenting them clearly remains important, but Stephens wants “wisdom journalism,” in which journalists are allowed to provide informed, intelligent, interpretive and insightful perspective on current events. Every journalism professor, journalist, editor, and serious student ought to read this compelling book.
Let’s hope that after reading this book numerous people in the news industry and professors responsible for students studying media will take the advice and run with it. You get a great perspective on where journalism needs to go to survive. Stephens is dead on when he calls for a change from reporting to “sense making”. Here is the method to reinvent journalism.