Press Release: Bennett et al., When the Press Fails
Drawing on interviews with Washington insiders and astute analysis of mainstream reportage, When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina argues that the dependence of journalists on government sources has silenced credible voices from all but the highest circles of power—with disastrous results. The authors trace this harmful dependency across the arc of the Bush administration’s media-assisted political fortunes, beginning with an unflinching look at why major news outlets neglected to cover evidence against the presence of WMDs in Iraq. They find that such catastrophic blind spots, especially during the Abu Ghraib controversy, stemmed from a dearth of high-level officials within government willing to question the administration publicly.
To remedy this shortcoming, the authors propose new practices aimed at diversifying the kinds of sources that professional conventions allow journalists to use. Seeing promise in the refreshingly balanced coverage of Hurricane Katrina, When the Press Fails ultimately illuminates how the press and the public alike can work toward a new kind of journalism, the emergence of which is absolutely vital to the future of our democracy.
Read the press release.
Read an excerpt from the book.