Tuesday, January 29, 2013

National News and the Nation:Research Report

National News and the Nation is a chapter in the report Newspapers and the Making of Modern America by Aurora Wallace, published by Greenwood Publication.

Wallace, a Canadian, is an associate professor with the department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. She obtained a B.A. in mass communication at Carleton University, a M.A. and a Ph.D. in communications at McGill University. Her research interests include 19th and 20th century American newspaper as evidenced with her publications National News and the Nation and Media Capital, which focus on the history of US newspapers.
Wallace’s degrees and interests are significant because it confirms her role as an authority. Her current profession is equally important as it shows that her article may have had been written for an academic purpose, perhaps to enhance her credibility by writing on subjects relevant to her line of work. Likewise, she may have written her apt article for a course she teaches – Twentieth Century American Newspapers. Indeed, according to a written interview from NYU, Wallace wanted to explain how newspapers have shaped “communities, towns, regions, and … the nation” during the 20th century in the US.
Wallace’s article focuses on the following newspapers: The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. This is because they are significant in the US newspaper industry – indeed, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, these newspapers appeared on the list of top 10 most read newspapers in the USA. Another reason may be because each newspaper seemingly focuses on a different category.
The written nature of Wallace’s article is academic – Wallace provides a detailed historical account by utilising and uniting various publications/sources. Moreover, Wallace avoids bias/opinion by utilising older publications and avoiding the first person narrative. Ergo, Wallace appears to have written for those interested in the history of newspapers/mass communication in America and those interested in how newspapers have shaped modern US society. To that end, Wallace puts stunning details on the histories of the various newspapers along with that of American history.

Nonetheless, questions are raised from further research. As a Canadian, Wallace may not be entirely familiar with all US newspapers that have affected America on a national level. She merely focuses on four newspapers, failing to give even a cursory review/summary on other newspapers which may have affected America. Moreover, a review/article by Jeffrey L. Paisley notes that the histories of newspapers were presented in a “dry” manner and that while Greenwood Publication is a ‘venerable institution,’ and trusted amongst journalism schools, is not particularly trusted with history departments.

In retrospect, this article may be interpreted with credence – Wallace’s chapter shows objectivism and shuns away her opinions. However, very few reviews on Wallace’s report were found, and the one that I could find took a rather critical stance towards her report. Accordingly, readers should consider other newspapers that may have also affected America, perhaps by looking at the various sources Wallace has cited. Hopefully readers may realise that other newspapers may have affected the US and potentially verify dubious claims. 

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