The author of this blog is a professor of journalism at New York University's Carter Institute. His most recent books include "Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World" (Palgrave Macmillan), "Beyond News: The Future of Journalism" (Columbia University Press) and "Journalism Unbound: New Approaches to Writing and Reporting" (Oxford University Press). For a full bio and listings of his writings, including links, see the header above.
Follow Mitchell Stephens on Twitter@MitchStephensNY
Search this site
Journalism, which lives so thoroughly in the present, is rarely examined from a historical perspective. But with larger perspectives in short supply — particularly as the field appears to change ever more rapidly — history has much to contribute. The posts here will mostly focus on what is happening to journalism and news today, and seems likely to happen to them tomorrow. It will pounce on some of the limitations of contemporary journalism and call, not surprisingly, for it to become wiser, deeper, broader and more adventurous. These posts will also suggest, and this is more controversial, that journalists ought to worry less about recording the news of the day — currently well recorded in multiple forms all across the Web — and devote themselves more to interpreting the news of the day. The posts here will, often enough, weigh in on the turmoil currently afflicting journalism and what might be born of it. These are, not coincidentally, issues Prof. Stephens is working on for his two current book projects. In their search for perspective on these up-to-the-minute topics, these posts will, however, frequently make use of centuries-old analogies.
Author Archives: Mitchell Stephens
Truth and how it might best be achieved is very much at issue in American journalism today. This is a debate with an important history. Our journalists first had to learn that it was important to stick to the facts. … Continue reading
David Gregory said out loud to one of our new model journalists what many of the old variety have, I fear, been thinking: “The question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regard to what you’re doing.” The … Continue reading
Engaging writing is one of the qualities the New York Times and other top newspapers might feature now that they compete for the news with, well, everybody. But this, alas, was the first sentence of the third paragraph of the lead story … Continue reading
My colleague Jay Rosen tackles a question much on my mind lately: how journalists obtain authority. For me it’s one corner of the larger question of what standards we might use to evaluate journalism now that journalism is, once again, expanding beyond … Continue reading
Television was probably the new form of communication that lent itself most to control by the powers that were. In the early decades of the medium’s history, a television transmitter was sufficiently expensive so that it was well beyond the … Continue reading
Here’s my talk to the Joint Journalism Historians Conference in New York yesterday. It contains some ideas I’m working on for my book on the future of journalism. As a blog post it is rather long. So here is a summary: … Continue reading
Ah, Love…. Novelists and filmmakers earn their livings off the subject. (Just finished Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which, at its best, is a love story.) Love and its discontents is often what we talk about when we talk with intimate friends. But … Continue reading
Wikileaks. Tunisia. Egypt. Yemen. Bahrain. Libya. Iran. Media theorists Harold Innis and Ben Bagdikian have trumpeted the destabilizing power of new forms of communication. Are we now witnessing instability spurred by the arrival of the Internet? Innis, who died in 1952, is … Continue reading
The argument that various new social media did not contribute much to the popular uprising in Egypt had a pretty good run during the first weeks of that uprising. Frank Rich quoted, approvingly, Malcolm Gladwell on the subject: “’surely the … Continue reading