Cover image for People's witness : the journalist in modern politics
People's witness : the journalist in modern politics
Inglis, Fred.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 416 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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PN4820 .I53 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Now, more than ever, political journalists are central figures in the titanic struggles of modern history, not only telling us about events but also interpreting them and shaping our views. This engrossing book explores the relationship between journalism and politics in the twentieth century and tells the stories of the journalists--both good and bad--who have played major roles.

Fred Inglis tracks the flamboyant biographies of giants of the genre, from the early newspapermen during the Russian revolution to those who reported on the Spanish Civil War, the hideous discoveries at Dachau, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He scrutinizes news proprietors such as Joseph Pulitzer, Katharine Graham, and Rupert Murdoch; writer-journalists like George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Andre Malraux, and Martha Gellhorn; and journalists of conscience--William Shirer in Nazi Germany, James Cameron in Asia, Neil Sheehan in Vietnam, Norman Mailer at the Pentagon, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein after Watergate, and others. Inglis examines the great pioneers of broadcast news journalism, notably Ed Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Alistair Cooke, as well as such contemporary journalists as Christopher Hitchens and the BBC's John Simpson. He explores the relations between political journalists and their all-powerful proprietors and exposes fascinating instances of pomposity, misjudgment, and downright untruthfulness, as well as moments of courage and responsibility.

In turns wise, insightful, funny, and biting, this sweeping narrative measures each journalist against the best principles of the vocation and silhouettes some of their most dramatic life stories against the moral horizons of the epoch.

Author Notes

Fred Inglis is professor of cultural studies at the University of Sheffield. A long-standing contributor to the Nation, the New Statesman, and the London Independent, he is also the author of numerous books.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The old saying about journalists writing the first draft of history comes to mind as Inglis parallels the history of war, politics, and journalism from the world wars through Vietnam and the current war on terrorism. He profiles several well-known journalists--Martha Gellhorn, Edward R. Murrow, A. J. Liebling, John Hersey, and Walter Lippmann, among others--and includes excerpts of their work, which is full of passion and idiosyncrasy. Inglis explores the history of muckrakers in the U.S. and Britain, and the rising power and influence of journalists as well as the politicians they covered. He also analyzes novels and movies about journalists, including Citizen Kane, His Girl Friday, and Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, all of them works that have contributed to the romanticism and mythology of the trade. A professor of culture and contributor to several publications, Inglis writes in an engaging style that adds immensely to this enormously appealing look at the individuals and events that constitute the culture of modern journalism. --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

According to Inglis (Univ. of Sheffield), who has written for the Nation, the New Statesman, and other publications, those who report the events of today are shaping the politics and history of tomorrow. This detailed and revealing account of the major players in journalistic history is introduced with precision timing into a society quick to question the media's intent and power. Inglis details the impact journalists can and have had on the outcomes of war or on the general opinions of war. He shares intriguing and often poignant glimpses into the passion, occasional arrogance, and courage of various journalists and the times about which they report. He looks back at the Russian Revolution and at figures such as Joseph Pulitzer and Walter Cronkite while also examining such writers as George Orwell and Norman Mailer. In addition, he dramatically details the personal vanities and beliefs of particular newspapers, which, he suggests, have frequently dictated how journalists report the "facts." Based on vast research, this work is recommended for larger public and academic libraries. Molly Misetich, Coeur d'Alene, ID (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.