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Inside the Upheaval of Journalism

Reporters Look Back on 50 Years of Covering the News


Edited By Ted Gest and Dotty Brown

In the spring of 1969, 101 students received master’s degrees from Columbia University’s prestigious School of Journalism, where they had learned the trade as it was then practiced. Most hoped to start a career in newspapers, radio, television or magazines, the established forms of journalism of that era. Little did they realize how the news world they were entering would be upended by the internet and by the social forces that would sweep through the country over the next 50 years.

This book tells the story of the news media revolution through the eyes of those in the Class of 1969 who lived it and helped make it happen. It is an insider’s look at the reshaping of the Fourth Estate and the information Americans now get and don’t get—crucial aspects of the vibrancy of democracy.

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Chapter Six International Reporting: A World of Difference


International Reporting: A World of Difference


Michèle Montas-Dominique, a Haitian journalist and 1969 graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, recounts here her views on 50 years of change in the coverage of international news. She also asked four other members of her class who reported from abroad to share their reflections. Their experiences follow her story.

On November 19, 2018 and during several months in 2019, the New York Times ran an ad in response to President Donald Trump’s accusation that the press was the “enemy of the people.” The ad, part of a “truth matters” campaign, said, “Securing one more interview …. Braving intimidation. Reporting from multiple angles … Understanding the world. The truth is worth it.”

But how we get to that truth in trying to understand the wider world is a difficult undertaking. News bureaus abroad are shrinking. Covering international stories has become increasingly dangerous. The immediacy of digital news has pushed investigative journalism further to the sidelines. An interactive world of bloggers, social media sites, and citizen journalists is now for many people, especially the young, the main provider of news.

Has our understanding of the world been enriched, become more accurate? Has the journalism profession—as we defined it 50 years ago when people watched a daily 30-minute capsule of the news on one of three major networks, read one or two of the major newspapers, and felt they understood the...

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