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Journalism's Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting [Hardcover]

John Maxwell Hamilton

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Book Description

Sept. 14 2009
In all of journalism, nowhere are the stakes higher than in foreign news-gathering. For media owners, it is the most difficult type of reporting to finance; for editors, the hardest to oversee. Correspondents, roaming large swaths of the planet, must acquire expertise that home-based reporters take for granted--facility with the local language, for instance, or an understanding of local cultures. Adding further to the challenges, they must put news of the world in context for an audience with little experience and often limited interest in foreign affairs--a task made all the more daunting because of the consequence to national security.

In Journalism's Roving Eye, John Maxwell Hamilton--a historian and former foreign correspondent--provides a sweeping and definitive history of American foreign news reporting from its inception to the present day and chronicles the economic and technological advances that have influenced overseas coverage, as well as the cavalcade of colorful personalities who shaped readers' perceptions of the world across two centuries.

From the colonial era--when newspaper printers hustled down to wharfs to collect mail and periodicals from incoming ships--to the ongoing multimedia press coverage of the Iraq War, Hamilton explores journalism's constant--and not always successful--efforts at "dishing the foreign news," as James Gordon Bennett put it in the mid-nineteenth century to describe his approach in the New York Herald. He details the highly partisan coverage of the French Revolution, the early emergence of "special correspondents" and the challenges of organizing their efforts, the profound impact of the non-yellow press in the run-up to the Spanish-American War, the increasingly sophisticated machinery of propaganda and censorship that surfaced during World War I, and the "golden age" of foreign correspondence during the interwar period, when outlets for foreign news swelled and a large number of experienced, independent journalists circled the globe. From the Nazis' intimidation of reporters to the ways in which American popular opinion shaped coverage of Communist revolution and the Vietnam War, Hamilton covers every aspect of delivering foreign news to American doorsteps.

Along the way, Hamilton singles out a fascinating cast of characters, among them Victor Lawson, the overlooked proprietor of the Chicago Daily News, who pioneered the concept of a foreign news service geared to American interests; Henry Morton Stanley, one of the first reporters to generate news on his own with his 1871 expedition to East Africa to "find Livingstone"; and Jack Belden, a forgotten brooding figure who exemplified the best in combat reporting. Hamilton details the experiences of correspondents, editors, owners, publishers, and network executives, as well as the political leaders who made the news and the technicians who invented ways to transmit it. Their stories bring the narrative to life in arresting detail and make this an indispensable book for anyone wanting to understand the evolution of foreign news-gathering.

Amid the steep drop in the number of correspondents stationed abroad and the recent decline of the newspaper industry, many fear that foreign reporting will soon no longer exist. But as Hamilton shows in this magisterial work, traditional correspondence survives alongside a new type of reporting. Journalism's Roving Eye offers a keen understanding of the vicissitudes in foreign news, an understanding imperative to better seeing what lies ahead.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 655 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr (Sept. 14 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807134740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807134740
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 18.8 x 4.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,059,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foreign Reporting Comprehensively Recorded Oct. 20 2009
By Paula Sullivan - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dean John Maxwell Hamilton of the Manship School of Journalism at Louisiana State University has given us in "Journalism's Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting" a comprehensive and fascinating account of the lives and writings of some of journalism's most colorful characters. Beginning with Colonial times and moving to our contemporary era, Dean Hamilton covers a lot of ground but does so in a lively and informative fashion. Anyone interested in journalism or the sweep of America's diplomatic history will find it a valuable source book, as well as a good read. Jack Sullivan, Alexandria, Virginia
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goldstein Award March 29 2010
By Adrienne L. Moore - Published on
This book is the recipient of the 2010 Goldstein Award. This prestigious award, presented by Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, further illuminates the importance of Journalism's Roving Eye for scholars and practitioners.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Oct. 3 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To follow the evolution of north-american foreign correspondents implies to extend a perspective on the history of the past two centuries. This task is beautifully done by John Maxwell Hamilton along the 24 very interesting chapters of this book, whose fantasy titles only glimpse on the dense information content. From the adventures of Benjamin Franklin in the Old Continent, the impact of the French Revolution in America, through the social upheavals in the postromantic '48 in Europe,the opening of the unexplored Africa by the white men in the last quarter of the XIXth century, the final collapse of the spanish empire in Cuba and the Philippines, the emergence of imperial Japan, the First World War and the scenes of the treacherous peace in 1919, the crazy years of the interwar period and the roaring twenties, the adventurous globe-trotters of those carefree years, the collapse of the traditional China and the rise of soviet communism, the birth of fearsome totalitarisms, fascism and nazism, with its mixture of grotesque and horror; the important role played by the radio broadcasting first, and TV later; the outbreak of the Second World War and the developement of an extaordinary body of American war correspondents, the performance of the new colored press in the global fight under the banner of the "W" or the double victory over external enemies and internal segregation, the subsequent performance of journalism during the Cold War, the misleading experience in Korea and the extremely traumatic one in Vietnam, and finally in the recent events of the Middle East... And along the way, the not less interesting references to the "yellow press", the tabloids, the titanic competition between Hearst and Pulitzer, the emergence of major U.S. newspapers, the "muckraking" and its refined successor the investigative journalism, and the so called "new journalism". All this with many references to the leading personalities of journalism, and a rich annotated bibliography that feeds and awakens the reader's eagerness to know more and more about the issues.
In my personal case, characters like Lafcadio Hearn, Frederick Douglass, John Reed, Vincent Sheean, Richard Harding Davis, Dorothy Thompson, Martha Gellhorn, Stephen Crane, Lincoln Steffens, John Gunther, Jack Belden, Walter Lippmann, William Shirer, Harrison Salisbury, Edgar Snow, Walter Cronkite, David Halberstam, and many others have aroused my keenest interest (even though I knew quite a few of them from my previous readings). And not to mention other figures more "light" and picturesque, as Nellie Bly and Thomas Stevens in their round the world, and the theatrical adventures of Richard Halliburton, for example.
In short: a book to read all year, and fruit in a hotbed of new readings inspired by its guide. Excellent!

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