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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 Eleven Book Publishing: Authors on the Front Line


Book Publishing: Authors on the Front Line


Books are magical and enchanting: they have covers protecting your words and thoughts; they have a title page where you can write an inscription for readers; they have your photograph and biography on the back flap, a table of contents, a space for acknowledgments, and, if you can afford it, an index. When you tell people you write books, their first question is about the subject. You are an expert, deservedly or not.

The process of publishing books today, however, is not so enchanting. It is a process that has changed radically over the past 50 years, putting more responsibility and expense on the shoulders of writers. Where once publishers took care of everything from editing to marketing—often leaving authors free to simply write their story—authors today frequently must hire their own editors, do their own marketing, and create their own world of social media to publicize their book. Increasingly, they cannot even get the attention of publishers and are spending thousands of their own dollars to self-publish. At the same time, the world of self-publishing gives authors a platform to get their books out to the public without being restricted by the conventions of the traditional book publishing industry.

“While it’s easier today to publish a book than it was years ago, it’s more difficult to earn money from its publication,” says David Hammer, an attorney who graduated with me...

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