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News, Public Affairs, and the Public Sphere in a Digital Nation

Rise of the Audience

Edgar Simpson

Missing from the ongoing conversation about the titanic forces reshaping national journalism is the meaning of daily professional journalism in communities where the majority of Americans live. Edgar Simpson spent a year intimately engaged with all the news streams available in two Midwest counties—one where a daily newspaper had closed and one where a daily newspaper continues to operate—to better understand and illuminate national news trends and translate them to specific communities. News, Public Affairs, and the Public Sphere in a Digital Nation: Rise of the Audience outlines the clear implications for representative democracy in the face of a daily professional journalism in retreat. If the U.S. system is to thrive, more resources at the community level must be marshaled to support journalism. Further, citizens will have to become increasingly sophisticated in understanding the type of content they are consuming and, more importantly, what information they are not consuming. This book not only puts the problems in stark terms but offers unique, community-based solutions. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 274Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-9015-9 • Hardback • August 2014 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-4985-0038-8 • Paperback • February 2016 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
978-0-7391-9016-6 • eBook • August 2014 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
Edgar Simpson is assistant professor of public affairs and digital journalism at Central Michigan University.
Chapter 1: Rise of the Audience
Chapter 2: The Shifting News Landscape
Chapter 3: Pixels, Posts, and Producers
Chapter 4: Building Their Own Narrative
Chapter 5: The Mean Sphere and the Empty Sphere
Chapter 6: #chardonshooting: The Inverted Sphere
Chapter 7: Citizens and Journalism
Chapter 8: Journalism
Timeliness is on the side of Simpson, with the recent (grudging) reporting by The New York Times on the role of Facebook in print journalism. This study, tellingly subtitled 'Rise of the Audience,' adds research based on regional Ohio media markets and historical perspective to frame a now-familiar trend, the rise of citizen journalism thanks to social media. Stepping back to add intellectual heft–he includes impressive references to Habermas, Thomas Friedman, and less-known media scholars–the author makes a few valuable points: for example, he includes a strong digression on the role of geography in thought and a solid section on the Telecommunications Act and its Good Samaritan clause. . . .Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.

Simpson’s case studies of Ohio counties are detailed, thorough, and rigorously analyzed. The author effectively catalogues what is happening locally in print, on television, and online, and seamlessly ties it into economic and cultural patterns affecting the nation and the industry as a whole. The result is a fresh and insightful window into the public sphere, at eye level, of a local media market.
Joseph Hayden, University of Memphis

Edgar Simpson’s intriguing book explores how the changing nature of journalism affects real people and actual communities. Simpson uses his impressive research to help us understand how news is reported and consumed in our transformed media environment. News, Public Affairs, and the Public Sphere in a Digital Nation: Rise of the Audience is important reading for those who want to ensure that we live in a democracy with informed citizens.
Jon Marshall, Northwestern University