COMM 168 Lecture 9: COMM 168 Lecture 9

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7 Feb 2017
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COMM 168
Lecture 9
Watchdog Journalism
Key findings
All time low since poll began in 1972
Peak year: 1976 (post Watergate)
Fell below 50% in 2007
Everyone blames this election and Trump
Another “Trump effect”
o Republicans: media are unfair
o Democrats: media have “enabled” Trump
News organizations
Accountability
Giving voice to the voiceless
James Madison
Watchdog role of the free press is what made journalism “a bulwark of
liberty”
Finley Peter Dunne
Role of the press is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”
o Giving voice to the voiceless
o Making powerful people uncomfortable
Revealing information they may not want to be revealed
2 key periods of investigative journalism
Muckrackers
o Late 19th, early 20th century
o Led the “reform era” with T. Roosevelt
o Child labor; worker safety; anti-trust; pure food and drug
Post Watergate
o 1970s, 80s, 90s
o Mostly focused on government corruption, abuse of power,
consumer frauds
o Tendency toward the trivial in recent years
Good journalism was good business
McClure’s and others:
o Cut newsstand price
15 cents
o This increased circulation
o This meant increased ad rates
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