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America’s news media are relentlessly criticized as too negative, sensationalistic, profit-oriented, and biased, not to mention unpatriotic and a miserable failure at reflecting the nation’s diversity. Rodger Streitmatter makes clear that although much of the criticism is deserved, it obscures the fact that news outlets have also made—and continue to make—many positive contributions to the country’s well-being.
A Force for Good: How the American News Media Have Propelled Positive Change offers a compelling account of the Fourth Estate’s efforts to improve U.S. society. Whether documenting the appalling conditions in mental institutions, exposing financial shenanigans and sex-abuse scandals, or championing an obscure pill as a form of contraception, Streitmatter argues, print and broadcast journalists have propelled significant social topics onto the public agenda and helped build support for change. This text draws on both historical and contemporary examples from a wide range of social contexts; the result is a fascinating tour of American history, social change, and the benefits of a robust media.