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Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corpsby Donald A. Ritchie
Synopses & Reviews
Donald Ritchie here offers a vibrant chronicle of news coverage in our nation's capital, from the early days of radio and print reporting and the heyday of the wire services to the brave new world of the Internet.
Beginning with 1932, when a newly elected FDR energized the sleepy capital, Ritchie highlights the dramatic changes in journalism that have occurred in the last seven decades. We meet legendary columnists--including Walter Lippmann, Joseph Alsop, and Drew Pearson (voted "the best ratcatching reporter in town")--as well as the great investigative reporters, from Paul Y. Anderson (who broke the Teapot Dome scandal) to the two green Washington Post reporters who launched the political story of the decade--Woodward and Bernstein. We read of the rise of radio news--fought tooth and nail by the print barons--and of such pioneers as Edward R. Murrow, H. V. Kaltenborn, and Elmer Davis. Ritchie also offers a vivid history of TV news, from the early days of Meet the Press, to Huntley and Brinkley and Walter Cronkite, to the cable revolution led by C-SPAN and CNN. In addition, he compares political news on the Internet to the alternative press of the '60s and '70s; describes how black reporters slowly broke into the white press corps (helped mightily by FDR's White House); discusses path-breaking woman reporters such as Sarah McClendon and Helen Thomas, and much more.
From Walter Winchell to Matt Drudge, the people who cover Washington politics are among the most colorful and influential in American news. Reporting from Washington offers an unforgettable portrait of these figures as well as of the dramatic changes in American journalism in the twentieth century.
"Ritchie, associate historian of the U.S. Senate since 1976, follows his 1991 study of the first 130 years of the American press (Press Gallery), with this second volume covering the last 70 years. Despite its modest subtitle, the work covers almost every issue relevant to the growth and change of American media in the modern era, from FDR's revolutionary use of radio to an analysis of media coverage of 9/11. Drawing on oral histories, broadcast archives, presidential papers, memoirs and interviews, Ritchie describes the rise of the wire services, racial integration of the press corps, the role of foreign correspondents, the rise of opinion columnists, the use of 'leaks,' the growth of television, the challenges of cable news networks and, finally, the impact of the Internet on news reporting. There's a lot of minutiae here — the struggles between rival wire services, the intricacies of staffing decisions at the New York Times, the complexities of early TV regulation — but it's all leavened with behind-the-scenes stories of some of the media's larger-than-life personalities (Katharine Graham, Walter Lippmann, Matt Drudge, etc.). And while Ritchie has arranged his material chronologically, the chapters are thematic, so readers interested in a particular issue — women's roles, for example — can consult the relevant chapter (and his well-documented endnotes) without digging through the entire text. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From Walter Winchell to C-SPAN, this is a colorful history of the Washington press corps from FDR to the present. 24 illustrations.
About the Author
Donald Ritchie has been Associate Historian of the United States Senate for almost three decades. A past president of the Oral History Association, he is the author of Doing Oral History, American Journalists: Getting the Story, and Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington Correspondents. He is a popular public speaker and a frequent commentator on C-SPAN.
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