DEADLINE FOR THE MEDIA: Today's Challenges to Press, TV and Radio by James Aronson

DEADLINE FOR THE MEDIA: Today's Challenges to Press, TV and Radio

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Regrettably the Aronsons among us -- knowledgeable people concerned about the decline of press freedom in this country -- seem to talk only to themselves. Perhaps the First Amendment guarantee of an unfettered press is too esoteric a notion for the average citizen. Or possibly it's indicative that most Americans don't give a hoot about the Bill of Rights. Or if they do, they consider it subversive (such evidence exists). Or maybe it's that those who write about the censor's challenge to the press -- usually professionals in the business -- really do talk only to themselves, like academic philosophers. In James Aronson's case, at least, the latter is certainly true. Reiterating many of the points made in his other books (The Press and the Cold War and Packaging the News), he takes libertarian swipes at such obligatory targets as the CIA, FBI, DOD, FCC, getting strident only about the Nixon ""campaign for a monolithic media"" where he finds ""an uncomfortable analogy with the propaganda efforts of the Third Reich."" But Aronson's main energies are spent beating the Establishment Press, lecturing his colleagues on their racist and sexist hiring policies, conformist editorial propensities, and chummy relationship -- a ""de facto partnership"" -- with government. James Reston of the Times is singled out as the worst example of this sort of journalistic selfcensorship because he has been a confidant of men like the Bundy brothers, McNamara, General Taylor, and Walt Rostow: why, even after the Pentagon Papers were published, Reston called these fiends ""honorable men of the highest personal morality,"" proving, according to Aronson, that the columnist is an enemy of public political debate, that he is an elitist journalist who either misunderstands or deliberately undermines the press' constitutionally mandated ""adversary"" role, that he has sold his professional integrity for a bowl of scoops. Since this is an ingroup matter, it seems pointless to comment on Aronson's silly reasoning -- that will properly come from brother practitioners who understand better than Aronson the full meaning of the free press principle.

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 1972
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill