THE PRESS EFFECT: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories that Shape the Political World

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Author, Paul Waldman, Author, Paul Waldman, Joint Author . Oxford Univ. $30 (240p) ISBN 978-0-19-515277-7

"The greatest generation was used to storming beachheads. Baby boomers such as myself was used to getting caught in a quagmire of Vietnam where politics made decisions more than the military sometimes." These garbled sentences, from a speech George W. Bush gave a month after September 11, were not dissimilar to those the President had delivered earlier. Yet the U.S. press, which had vigilantly chronicled all of Bush's earlier malapropisms, had decided the president had changed and was now eloquent. This fascinating, well documented and entertaining critique of the national press makes the case that the mainstream media doesn't so much report the news as create it, especially when journalists "transform the raw stuff of experience into presumed fact and arrange facts into coherent stories." University of Pennsylvania communications professor Jamieson and research fellow Waldman focus mainly on how the press reported the 2000 election, the Supreme Court's decision on the Florida vote and its response to national politics after 9/11. In each instance, they uncover and substantiate how the national press shapes the news. During the election, for instance, the press adapted a "frame" for each candidate, presenting Bush as "not too bright" and Gore as "untrustworthy." This "frame" defined most of the coverage, they say. Jamieson and Waldman's analysis is eye opening, and much of it is highly provocative. Intelligent and timely, this is an important addition to the literature on media and current events. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/14/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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