The News as Myth: Fact and Context in Journalism
(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990)
In plain, non-technical language, this book argues that "the myth of the news is its supposed objectivity" and that the very forms which presumably guarantee veracity ultimately lead to consistently incomplete and misleading news reports. It draws a distinction between "true fictions", articles whose general accuracy is demonstrable, even when the standards of contemporary reportage are not met, and 'false truths' in which a correctly attributed and formally appropriate news story is so incomplete or unbelievable as to constitute a demonstrable falsehood. Its analysis begins with the most basic of reportorial tasks, obituary writing, and then proceeds to issues of investigative reportage. Since its publication it has been used not only in journalism courses, but also as a text in basic writing at the college level.
- "It is a critical, iconoclastic book, but thought-provoking rather than a mindless broadside. . . definitely worth reading." The IRE Journal
- "A sincere attempt to help reporters ask more probing questions. It is well written and features interesting notes at the end of each chapter." Choice, 1990
- "A clear, lively book, one that is enthusiastically recommended." ALRB, 1990