As the controversy over NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams’ tale from the Iraq War is discussed, some are wondering how a television news figure could become so powerful. Mike Conway, author of “The Origins of Television’s ‘Anchor Man’: Cronkite, Swayze, and Journalism Boundary Work,” discusses the controversy in this essay. To read his article on the origins of the television term “anchor,” published in the Fall 2014 issue of American Journalism, go to Taylor & Francis online.
Teaching Our Journal
With each issue of American Journalism, we feature teaching materials for a particular article and provide free online access to the article (through Taylor & Francis, the publisher of American Journalism).
The teaching materials provide topical overviews and various exercises for teaching the article in either undergraduate or graduate classes. The author of the article creates the teaching exercises and provides links to relevant primary and secondary sources.
We hope these teaching materials and the historical studies they reference will enrich your media history courses and, most importantly, your students’ learning. And we hope you will let us know how you use American Journalism in your classrooms.
New Views of Investigative Reporting in the Twentieth Century
Volume 31, No. 4, 2014
By Gerry Lanosga, Indiana University
When students are asked about investigative reporting, they tend to think immediately about Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and Watergate. This instant identification is testament to the powerful mythos of Watergate and the implicit notion that it represents the beginning of the adversary press. It is a creation story of sorts that casts an outsized shadow on both public and professional discourse about the development of a modern journalistic practice.
Investigative journalism, of course, did not emerge fully formed from Woodward and Bernstein’s notebooks. The journalistic exposé has found expression throughout American history, from early colonial newspapers and the revolutionary press to abolitionist writings and Gilded Age newspaper crusades to the muckraking in national magazines around the turn of the twentieth century. And although the decades after the muckrakers (and before Watergate) are sometimes viewed as a journalistic wasteland, investigative journalism endured in those years as well, especially in local newspapers.
“New Views of Investigative Reporting in the Twentieth Century” documents the essential continuity of this investigative tradition from 1917 to 1960. Historians generally agree that muckraking had all but died out by around 1917, which happens to be the year the first prizes were awarded in a new contest endowed by and named for the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer. The Pulitzer Prizes, which constitute the main source of evidence in this article, were journalism’s first national award and are generally regarded as one of the profession’s top honors. While many scholars have studied prize-winning journalism, however, their inquiries usually exclude the dozens or hundreds of journalists and journalistic works each year that were entered but did not win. Read more.