Perspectives on Mass Communication History
Routledge – 1991 – 392 pages
Series: Routledge Communication Series
This unique volume is based on the philosophy that the teaching of history should emphasize critical thinking and attempt to involve the student intellectually, rather than simply provide names, dates, and places to memorize. The book approaches history not as a cut-and-dried recitation of a collection of facts but as multifaceted discipline. In examining the various perspectives historians have provided, the author brings a vitality to the study of history that students normally do not gain. The text is comprised of 24 historiographical essays, each of which discusses the major interpretations of a significant topic in mass communication history. Students are challenged to evaluate each approach critically and to develop their own explanations. As a textbook designed specifically for use in graduate level communication history courses, it should serve as a stimulating pedagogical tool.
"…important, informative, engaging, provocative, and potentially controversial. These are attributes of significant scholarship and scholarly inquiry, and therefore provide ample reason for its use in graduate-level courses in mass communications history. There has long been a need for such a book, both as a guide to students new to the study of mass communications history and to those already working in the field."
"…presents a series of essays with the goal of challenging students to think about the variety of explanations….that have been used to chronicle mass communication history. The structure of the book seems ideal to successfully carry out that goal and promote the development of critical thinking among journalism history students….the generally even-handed presentation of the various perspectives is a strength of the book as a teaching tool."
Contents: Preface: A Note on Teaching. Perspectives on Mass Communication History. The Study of History: Interpretation or Truth? The Colonial Press, 1690-1765: Mirror of Society or Origin of Journalism? American Revolutionary Printers, 1765-1783: Powerful Radicals or Ineffective Conservatives? The Party Press, 1783-1833: Political Sycophant or Party Leader? Freedom of the Press, 1690-1800: Libertarian or Limited? Women in Media, 1700-Present: Victims or Equals? The Frontier Press, 1800-1900: Personal Journalism or Paltry Business? The Penny Press, 1833-1861: Product of Great Men or Natural Forces? The Antebellum Press, 1827-1861: Effective Abolitionist or Reluctant Reformer? The Civil War Press, 1861-1865: Promoter of Unity or Neutral Reporter? The Black Media, 1865-Present: Liberal Crusaders or Defenders of Tradition? The Industrial Press, 1865-1883: Professional Journalism or Pawn of Urbanism? New Journalism, 1883-1900: Social Reform or Professional Progress? Modern Journalism, 1900-1945: Working Profession or Big Business? Public Relations, 1900-1950: Tool for Profit of for Social Reform? Advertising, 1900-Present: Capitalist Tool or Economic Necessity? Mass Magazines, 1900-Present: Serious Journalism or Mass Entertainment? The Muckrakers, 1901-1917: Defenders of Conservatism or Liberal Reformers? The Media in Trying Times, 1917-1945: Propagandists, Patriots, or Professionals? American Radio, 1920-1948: Traditional Journalism or Revolutionary Technology? The Contemporary Press, 1945-Present: Profiteering Business or Professional Journalism? Television, 1948-Present: Entertainment or Information? The Entertainment Media, 1900-Present: Diffusers of Culture or Seekers of Profit?