Journalism and Democracy

Authored by: David Ryfe

The Handbook of Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138052888
eBook ISBN: 9781315167497
Adobe ISBN:


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Discussion of journalism’s contributions to democracy is older than the profession itself and much older than the earliest academic studies of the occupation (e.g., Keane, 1991; McNair, 2009). Enlightenment thinkers associated newspapers with reason, rationality, progress, and, ultimately, democracy (e.g., Habermas, 1989; Thompson, 1996; Tocqueville, 1835/2004). Just as journalism began to professionalize at the turn of the 20th century, sociologists like Tarde (1969/1901) and Tönnies (1971/1923) pondered its role in emerging modern societies. In the United States around the same time, public conversations about journalism mostly centered on its relation to democracy (e.g., Dewey, 1927; Lippmann, 1922). As journalism professionalized, journalists began to incorporate democratic commitments into their self-understanding (e.g., Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2001).

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