Mightier than the Sword: How the News Media Have Shaped American History

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9780813346304: Mightier than the Sword: How the News Media Have Shaped American History

In this path-breaking book, Rodger Streitmatter takes readers on a sightseeing tour of American history as influenced by the public press, visiting sixteen landmark events in US history, from the American Revolution and the civil rights movement to Watergate and 9/11. These are events that stir the political imagination; but, as Streitmatter shows, they also demonstrate how American journalism, since the 1760s, has not merely recorded this nation's history but has played a role in shaping it. This book is the first of its kind. Streitmatter avoids the mind-numbing lists of names, dates, and newspaper headlines that bog down the standard journalism history textbook. Instead, he focuses on a limited number of episodes, identifying common characteristics within the news media. The third edition includes an entirely new chapter on social media and the election of Barack Obama. This edition also looks beyond traditional journalistic outlets such as newspapers and television news reports to examine the modern-day role that the Internet and its various venues play in reporting the news and shaping history.

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About the Author:

Rodger Streitmatter is professor of journalism at American University. A journalist and historian, he is the author of several books and has contributed to numerous popular and scholarly periodicals, including The Washington Post, The Advocate, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, and American Journalism.

Review:

Praise for the Third Edition of Rodger Streitmatter's Mightier than the Sword

When it comes to looking American journalism square in the eye and asking exactly the right questions, no book offers a fresher perspective and does it better than Mightier Than the Sword. Just for his examination alone of the media's failure over the years to support women's suffrage, or for questioning what is ethical in the pursuit of a cause as important as independence, Rodger Streitmatter deserves high grades for making his readers critically rethink their preconceived notions.”
Steve Klein, coordinator of the Journalism program at George Mason University

"Streitmatter's book is an excellent auxiliary text for an introductory mass media class. It provides students with a real sense of the role the media have played in the development of American society and how they were used as agents of social change. It also provides a context for the role the media play today."
Dave Cassady, Pacific University



In this engagingly written collection of case studies, Rodger Streitmatter demonstrates that journalism history is much more than a static gallery of the usual portraits...Overall, the second edition of Mightier than the Sword is well worth acquiring, as it offers substantial new content and updates. As in the first edition, Streitmatter writes gracefully and concisely, in a style sure to command students' interest. He embeds considerable scholarship in each chapter, so that readers wishing more can easily see where next to go This book will continue to be useful not only in the standard journalism history course but in myriad others from media and society to media criticism to reporting.”
Journalism History (Nancy L. Roberts, SUNY-Albany)

In succinct, engrossing prose, Streitmatter shows how courageous, effective communicators have accepted their own and their media's limitations to shape the outcome of events from abolitionism to anti-Semitism, women's rights to civil rights, the Ku Klux Klan to Vietnam.”
Booklist

An easy-to-digest overview of the media's influence on American history and politics A fine introductory textbook for a journalism class.”
Kirkus Reviews

Rodger Streitmatter's Mightier than the Sword is a welcome addition to my course in the history of American mass media. His writing style is accessible and enjoyable for students, and his focus on important historical moments makes it easy for me to make good use of the text no matter how I organize my class. Students like this book because it's fun to read, and I like it because it asks them to think critically about something important the role of journalism in shaping American history.”
Janice Hume, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia

Many students tell me in their course evaluations that Mightier Than the Sword is one of their favorite textbooks ever. It's so interestingly written that some of them don't even wait until the end of the semester to tell me how inspiring it is and that it's one textbook they plan to keep. This has been the case since I started using it back with the first edition. Pretty good for a book on history, a subject many students don't expect to enjoy. Doubly good that the book has always been more affordably priced than most texts students are asked to buy.”
James Pinson, Eastern Michigan University

Praise for Previous Editions:

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