By Chris Daly
Delighted to see this review just out from Publisher’s Weekly.
Covering America: A Narrative History of a Nation’s Journalism.Christopher B. Daly. Univ. of Massachusetts, $49.95 (544 p) ISBN 978-1-55849-911-9
In this scholarly yet readable volume, Daly (Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World), a professor of history and journalism at Boston University, 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. Beginning in the early 1700s with the institution of a postal service and continuing through the advent of the Internet and its implications for the “dinosaurs” of big media, the book is full of colorful portraits of American media icons such as Benjamin Franklin and late New York Times reporter David Halberstam. Any history book runs the risk of being bland, but Daly peppers the text with amusing anecdotes and intriguing facts (e.g., the idea for the first journalism courses, offered at Washington & Lee University, came from defeated Confederate General Robert E. Lee). Daly divides the major time periods in American journalism into five categories: politicization (1704-1832), commercialization (1833-1900), professionalization (1900-1974), conglomeration (1965-1995), and digitization (1995-present). These divisions make the narrative easy to follow for both students of journalism and casual enthusiasts. 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. Illus.
Reviewed on: 04/09/2012