MAKING NEWS by Gaye Tuchnum


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At a time when books on the news media can't seem to roll off the presses fast enough, this turgid little monograph--on how the media turn events into news--has little to recommend it. Tuchman, a sociologist at the City University of New York, doesn't even identify the TV station and newspaper where she did the bulk of her research, except to say that they are in ""a metropolitan area."" Her style is ponderous: ""Reflexivity and indexicality refer to the contextual embeddedness of phenomena,"" we are told in a section on people making sense of their world. Tuchman's theme, she says, is that ""the act of making news is the act of constructing reality itself rather than a picture of reality."" This is hard to dispute--think how events change merely because the press arrives on the scene--but Tuchman puts too much emphasis on theories and strategies by which newsworkers supposedly construct reality. ""Generally legitimated"" officials are filmed head-on, she notes, but rioters and demonstrators--disturbers of the status quo--are shot from above like inanimate objects. Edward Jay Epstein's News from Nowhere offers a more cogent discussion of news as a ""mirror of society,"" quoting network sources and citing practical reasons why a news story might not always ""tell it like it is."" His book is more valuable altogether than this confused treatment which applies abstract criteria to a pragmatic business.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan