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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.

“Accurate, independently gathered information is as necessary to our way of government as the right to vote. This book by veteran journalists is the best analysis I’ve seen of the precarious state of American journalism and the danger that alone poses to our democracy.” —Bob Schieffer, CBS News, author of Overload: Finding Truth in the Deluge of News

“At a time when a president of the United States calls reporters ‘the enemy of the people,’ this book is a powerful reminder that journalism is a noble calling filled with honest professionals dedicated to fairly and accurately pursuing the truth and informing the public—goals essential to the functioning of American democracy. As the contributors from the Columbia Journalism School’s Class of 1969 make clear, the news business has changed dramatically since they graduated a half century ago. But the core values they learned as students endure—and are as important today as ever.” —Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent, Yahoo News

“For a journalist like myself, on the road for 50 years, Inside the Upheaval of Journalism is a walk down memory lane, recalling, in some cases, the hard road both Blacks and women traveled to realize their dreams of becoming reporters. But the book’s seasoned journalists also bring us into the present with great clarity and sometimes painful insight. They confront the challenges veterans and newcomers face as technology changes the reporting dynamic ever faster, but not always with good results. And yet, the love of the profession is constant, as is the desire to help a new generation appreciate that their job remains, as always, to faithfully record our country’s journey toward a more perfect union.” —Charlayne Hunter-Gault, award-winning journalist and author

“This is an inspired examination of what’s happened to American journalism over the past 50 years, artfully told by people who lived it, who helped shape the best of it, and who warn us of the perils of the present day. Moving gracefully from personal anecdote to sweeping analysis, it is a unique and valuable volume.” —David Boardman, Dean and Professor, Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple University

“This is an inspiring collection of essays by dedicated and accomplished journalists. Together, the authors show how the core values of Columbia Journalism School shape diverse careers and strengthen our profession.” —Steve Coll, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University