Polity Press is releasing my book this month. Networked: A Contemporary History of News in Transition examines the changes taking place in journalism, the conditions that brought them about, and the characteristics shaping news now and in the future.
I started researching and writing the book when I was a fellow at USC’s Annenberg Center for Communication in 2005. My book didn’t start out as a history but, of course, anything anyone writes about the news industry these days is instantly a history. Realizing that fact made me want to write about that– about how hopeless it felt to be writing an academic book about a fleeting era when the book would arrive (as it turns out) six years after the fact. It was Indiana University cultural studies television scholar and my good friend Chris Anderson who told me: “Well, then, make it a history… of news in transition!” To which I responded: “Um, yeah I will!”
The book was supposed to begin and end with the U.S. Gulf Wars waged by our Presidents Bush I and II. I had what I thought were great conceptual reasons for that framing and the book-end Bush wars would have made for a good tight narrative structure. But things kept happening to expand the narrative. How do you write a book in 2011 about evolving networked-era journalism and not include mention of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign or Wikileaks or… everything else?
So how did I wrap it up? You have to read it to find out. It’s a thriller! On the winding road that stretches between the first and the last page, you’ll encounter dinosaur bones, smart bombs, Dick Cheney, John Dewey, Walter Lippmann, French riot bloggers, Jon Stewart, the Yes Men, Guy DeBord’s Situationists and much much more!
Read the introduction (pdf) here.