BOOKS: BAD NEWS, BAD NEWS

JAMES FALLOWS EXAMINES THE DANGERS OF A CYNICAL PRESS

JOURNALISM MAKES DEMOCRACY POSsible. It does so by giving citizens the information to make political decisions and the tools to participate in public life, both prerequisites of self-governance. Why then are people so cynical about the press? Because the press has become so cynical about politics, argues James Fallows in his devastatingly reasonable critique Breaking the News (Pantheon; 296 pages; $23).

Increasingly, Fallows argues, journalists falsely pride themselves for being detached, indeed condescending, about the political process. Instead of trying to help people find common ground on complex issues--abortion, welfare reform, Medicaid--the media play up conflicts and cross fires in a...

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