Lipp service

I’m reading ‘The Elements of Journalism’ by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel for the class I’m teaching. I came across this quote in Chapter one, apropos of what I was saying about the reading public:

According to K+R, Walter Lippmann said, “People… mostly know the world only indirectly, through ‘pictures they make up in their heads.’ And they receive these mental pictures largely through the media. The problem, Lippmann argued, is that the pictures most people have in their heads are hopelessly distorted and incomplete, marred by the irredeemable weaknesses of the press.”

That’s really what I meant, I suppose, when I rashly accused the American reading public of being stupid. These flawed mental pictures, I think, could be at least partly repaired by reputable news organizations (though Lippmann was writing in 1922, so even radio was a new thing), but the pictures are too heavily influenced by TV for even a particularly strong photograph to change their minds, let alone a well-reported and written story.

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