Sunday, April 25, 2010

The evolution of journalism and media

Today's New York Times Sunday Book Review has an enlightening review of Alan Brinkley's biography of Henry Luce (The Publisher, Henry Luce and His American Century).

The story of Luce and his publications (Time, Life, Fortune) reflect the embodiment of journalism through much of the 20th century; these publications are — or were, in the case of Life — icons of my life.

Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the Times, concludes his review with a summary of the present state of journalism, media, and American society. I find it worthy of memorializing:
It would be a mistake to sentimentalize the previous century’s version of journalistic authority. But it is probably fair to say that the cacophony of today’s media — in which rumor and invective often outpace truth-testing, in which shouting heads drown out sober reflection, in which it is possible for people to feel fully informed without ever encountering an opinion that contradicts their prejudices — plays some role in the polarizing of our politics, the dysfunction of our political system and the increased cynicism of the American electorate.