CRITIQUE: The Literacy Problem

A new minischool of press criticism is forming that may be described as Funky Facile. Perhaps as a reaction to the self-praise of the Watergate period, such stylish writers as Lewis Lapham and Murray Kempton have lately put down U.S. journalism as not worth the penny that newspapers once cost. The latest lesson comes from Mark Harris, onetime reporter and now a successful novelist (Bang the Drum Slowly), who argues that the press is incapable of contributing to public enlightenment and is thus superfluous.

Writing in the New York Times Magazine, Harris gives...

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