The Washington Reporters
Brookings Institution Press, 2010 M12 1 - 174 pages
In the vast literature on the way democratic governments work, the role of the press is often overlooked. Yet the press, no less than the formal branches of government, is a public policy institution and deserves to be included in explanations of the governmental process. In The Washington Reporters, Stephen Hess focuses on those who cover the U.S. government for the American commercial news media. His book is based on interviews with reporters and editors and on responses to questionnaires from nearly half of the over 1,200 American reporters in Washington. Analysis of these responses and comparison with the content and placement of over 2,000 of these reporters' news stories permit an unusual—and sometimes startling—perspective on Washington newswork. Mr. Hess demonstrates, for instance, how information in the news regularly comes from the legislative branch of the government, despite the greater number of stories on the presidency; and he shows that Washington news dominates the front pages of daily newspapers across the country, no matter how little may be going on in the nation's capital. The author concludes that "Washington news gathering fragments [media] power, while at the same time it shifts decisions on what is news and how it should be covered to the reporters." The import of this impression is that "reporters are not simply passing along information; they are choosing, within certain limits, what most people will know about government. The freedom given and assumed by these news workers affects the shape of national affairs."
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assignment autonomy average beats black reporters bureau chief Capitol Hill chain bureaus Characteristic of reporter committee Congress congressional cover coverage diplomacy diplomatic economics editors Employer fewer foreign policy generalists graduate degrees home office Humanities/liberal arts independent newspaper influential inner ring interviews Knight-Ridder less magazine major mass media network correspondent network television newsmagazine newspaper reporter newspaper stories Newsweek Noninfluential Northeast Number of responses older reporters operations organizations pack journalism papers percent percentage political president presidential prestige problem programs regional news services regional reporters regulatory agencies reporter's reporters in Washington Science/technology Senate specialists specialized publications staff Supreme Court television networks undergraduate United Press International Washington bureau Washington journalism Washington journalists Washington Monthly Washington news corps Washington news gathering Washington Post Washington press corps Washington reporters Washington stories week White House wire services write York York Daily young reporters