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‘Losing the News’ Examines Journalism’s Shifting Future

Journalist and author Alex Jones speaks with Jeffrey Brown about the uncertain future of journalism, as well as his new book, "Losing the News."

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    It's no secret the news business is in great turmoil. Newspapers and television stations are suffering from the economic downturn as once plentiful advertising dries up, leading to layoffs, cutbacks in coverage, and an uncertain future.

    A new book, "Losing the News," addresses the questions of what's being lost in this process and what might be done about it. Its author is Alex Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who covered the press for the New York Times. He's now director of Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and joins me now, and welcome.

    ALEX JONES, journalist and author: Thank you. Good to be here.


    You begin the book with a personal story about an experience you had of getting the story.


    I wanted to start the book by trying to help people understand what journalism feels like, people who are not journalists themselves. And I tell about the best moment that I had as a journalist, which was in Louisville, Kentucky, in a hotel room in the middle of the night, with cigarettes strewn and old watery iced tea glasses around.

    I'd gone there for the New York Times to do a story on the Bingham family, a family that owned newspapers, a very famous newspaper, the Courier-Journal, and had basically fallen apart.

    I'd gone there as the media reporter for the New York Times to tell this story, which was a business story in one sense, but in much more profound way, a very human story, a family story, a newspaper story.

    And I got lucky, because I was able to interview members of the family, and I was able to get that gold of journalistic — you know, of reporting, which is to get people to tell you what you really believe is the truth about the way they feel about things.


    With lots of interviews, lots of time?


    Lots of interviews, lots of checking, lots of hours put in, lots of rechecking, and lots of effort at writing it in a way that would be compelling and would be something that people who are New York Times readers would read and not only get the facts, but would get the emotional power, as well.


    And so this becomes illustrative of what you think is being lost. You refer to it as the iron core of news. What's being lost?

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