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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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Postscript: An Informed News Consumer’s View



I came a bit late to this book project. As one of the few members the Class of 1969 who did not pursue a career as a journalist or author, I didn’t feel I had much to add during its inception. I would stand on the sidelines and cheer.

I was drawn into the fray by our harried editors who needed someone to do basic copy editing, a skill I gained at the J-School and never lost. Soon I was giving every chapter a final polishing, checking for grammar and punctuation, turning passive sentences into active ones, and raising questions when something was unclear.

In the course of checking every leaf of every tree, I also got a chance to see the whole forest described in the book—the world of journalism and how it had changed in the half-century since our graduation. Many of my classmates had been there, experiencing and, in many cases, creating the changes. I had been watching as an interested but not directly involved bystander while pursuing a career in education and corporate communications.

As I read the manuscript, however, I realized that I had honed an additional skill at the J-School—that of a highly informed consumer of news. Each day during my bus and subway commute to the school, I had read at least three New York City newspapers. In class, we read and analyzed papers and magazines all day, and...

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