cover of book

Mister Pulitzer and the Spider: Modern News from Realism to the Digital
by Kevin G Barnhurst
University of Illinois Press, 2018
eISBN: 978-0-252-09840-6 | Cloth: 978-0-252-04018-4 | Paper: 978-0-252-08391-4
Library of Congress Classification PN4801.B32 2016
Dewey Decimal Classification 070.9051

A spidery network of mobile online media has supposedly changed people, places, time, and their meanings. A prime case is the news. Digital webs seem to have trapped "legacy media," killing off newspapers and journalists' jobs. Did news businesses and careers fall prey to the digital "Spider"?
To solve the mystery, Kevin Barnhurst spent thirty years studying news going back to the realism of the 1800s. The usual suspects--technology, business competition, and the pursuit of scoops--are only partly to blame for the fate of news. The main culprit is modernism from the "Mister Pulitzer" era, which transformed news into an ideology called "journalism." News is no longer what audiences or experts imagine. Stories have grown much longer over the past century and now include fewer events, locations, and human beings. Background and context rule instead.
News producers adopted modernism to explain the world without recognizing how modernist ideas influence the knowledge they produce. When webs of networked connectivity sparked a resurgence in realist stories, legacy news stuck to big-picture analysis that can alienate audience members accustomed to digital briefs.

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