Journalists from all over would consider Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload to be one of the most informative descriptions on what journalism is and should be. The authors, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, have become professionals at the field of journalism after their many years of reporting and affluent careers which helped them earned their prestige. Bill Kovach’s inspiration to become a reporter came from his years of working at the Johnson City Press Chronicle in Tennessee to earn money for graduate school around the 1960s. While working at the Johnson City Press, Kovach covered stories on the civil rights movement, politics, and poverty which many would consider to be very influential topics to jump-start a career. Kovach went on to study journalism for a year at Stanford University in 1967 and was offered a job at the New York Times by 1968. It wasn’t long before Kovach was able to head the New England bureau of the Times and reported on the Pentagon Papers which helped him earn a spot in the Washington bureau where he then covered the Watergate hearings. After spending 18 years with the Times, Kovach took on the position as executive editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and contributed to two of the paper’s Pulitzer Prizes. Kovach eventually went on to create the Committee of Concerned Journalists through the Harvard Faculty Club to confront swiftly approaching issues faced by journalists in the 1990s. It was around this time when Kovach decided to collaborate with Tom Rosenstiel.
Tom Rosenstiel graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism before he began his 20 year career as a journalist. He started off at the Peninsula Times Tribune in California where he made his way to become the paper’s business editor in the 1980s. He later became a media critic for the Los Angeles Times and remained for a steady 12 years. After working for the Times, Rosenstiel took on the position as chief correspondent for Newsweek Magazine where he covered reports on topics such as the Gingrich revolution. By 1997, he founded the Project for Excellence in Journalism, or the PEJ, which covers numerous research projects dedicated to the status of American journalism including the study of blogs and other social media. After his influential work with PEJ, Rosenstiel also decided to become the co-founder and vice chairman of the CCJ with Bill Kovach when the two began publishing numerous books, including Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload devoted to the study of journalism and earned many awards for their work together.
Kovach and Rosenstiel’s work together covers a broad spectrum of current media and the changes occurring in the modern-day’s journalism. Their first book published in 1999, Warp Speed: America in the Age of Mixed Media, confronts what they would consider a “continuous news cycle” that distorts quality journalism and follows mixed media responses to events such as the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair. Some of their other books include Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect. In Blur, Kovach and Rosenstiel provide information on how to identify quality journalism in modern-day media and signify differences between fact and fabrication among many other important aspects. Chapters 8 and 9 read for discussion cover many important aspects of journalism to look for when consumers want to find their news.
Chapter 8 of Blur poses the question of what news stories really matter to us. Rosenstiel and Kovach explain that the public is given countless news outlets so they are able to find the stories that interest them in particular; they are no longer limited by the seven or eight stories presented to them by editors of newspapers. Kovach and Rosenstiel give examples of studies found by the PEJ and other journalism institutions that show Americans are most concerned about the weather out of all the news available to them. They also go on to instruct readers on how to identify exceptional journalism by recognizing certain methods such as David Halberstam’s “saturation reporting” among others. Chapter 9 further addresses the concept of the public becoming self-reliant on gathering news. When comparing this concept with the old role of journalists as “information gatekeepers,” Kovach and Rosenstiel conclude that journalists of the future need “embrace public participation in the news” and adjust accordingly. They explain how the major shift in the gathering of information for citizens is now towards the reliance on multiple different sources and constant access to information whenever needed. To adjust to this shift, Kovach and Rosenstiel suggest that journalists take on eight different roles including those of authenticators, sense makers, investigators, and witness bearers in order to become more active than before. They explain how this shift is not a negative one; it simply requires modifications to keep journalists from going obsolete.
Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age on Information Overload