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Tom Rosenstiel is an author, journalist, press critic and executive director of the American Press Institute. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was founder and for 16 years director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), a research organization that studies the news media and is part of the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. A journalist for more than 30 years, he worked as a media critic for the Los Angeles Times and chief congressional correspondent for Newsweek magazine and as co-founder and vice chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. Among his books, he is the co-author of the popular The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect. He appears often on radio, television and in print, and has written widely on politics and media.
A graduate of Oberlin College and the Columbia School of Journalism, Rosenstiel began his career as a reporter for muckraking political columnist Jack Anderson. He worked at The Peninsula Times Tribune, his hometown paper in Palo Alto, CA, as a business reporter and Business Editor from 1980 to 1983. He then spent 12 years at the Los Angeles Times, most of those as a media critic and Washington correspondent. He left the Times in 1995 to join Newsweek Magazine, where he served as chief congressional correspondent and covered the Gingrich revolution.
In 1997, he founded the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an institute that studies the press performance. PEJ is non partisan, non ideological, and non political. From 1997 to 2006, PEJ was affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Columbia University. In 2006 PEJ separated from Columbia and became part of Pew Research Center, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a private organization. PEJ, among other studies, produces the annual State of the News Media Report that takes stock of the news industry, the weekly News Coverage Index that monitors the coverage of the mainstream media and the weekly New Media Index that monitors social media and blogs.
Rosenstiel also co-founded the Committee of Concerned Journalists, an organization of journalists around the world working in different media concerned about the future of public interest journalism. Rosenstiel directed CCJ's daily activities until 2006. During those years, Rosenstiel was co-author of CCJ's "Traveling Curriculum", a mid-career education program that trained more than 6,000 U.S. journalists. CCJ is now affiliated with the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, where Rosenstiel is an adjunct professor of Journalism Studies.
In 2001, Rosenstiel co-authored with Bill Kovach the book The Elements of Journalism, which identifies, explains and traces intellectual origins of the core principles of American journalism and their role in civil society. Updated in 2007, "Elements" has been called "one of five essential books on journalism (Roger Mudd, The Wall Street Journal), a "modern classic" (William Safire, The New York Times) and "the most important book on the relationship of journalism and democracy published in the last 50 years" (Roy Clark, the Poynter Institute). Elements has been translated into more than two dozen languages and is the winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize from Harvard University, the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award for research in journalism and the Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism from Penn State.
Among his most recent books is Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload (2011), also with Kovach, which offers a roadmap for how consumers can determine whether the news they encounter is reliable and an outline for how journalism must change to meet the changing needs of the 21st-century citizen; and The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century, co-edited with Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute (Sage, 2013). A new updated third edition of Elements is due in 2014.
Books on journalism
- Rosenstiel, Tom (1993). Strange Bedfellows: How TV and the Presidential Candidates Changes American Politics, 1992 (Hyperion Press)
- Rosenstiel, Tom and Bill Kovach (1999). Warp Speed: America in The Age of Mixed Media (Century Foundation).
- Rosenstiel, Tom and Bill Kovach (2001; 2nd edition 2007). Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect (Crown Publishing).
- Rosenstiel, Tom and Amy S. Mitchell, editors (2003). Thinking Clearly: Cases in Journalistic Decision Making (Columbia University Press).
- Rosenstiel, Tom and Marion Just, Todd Belt, Atiba Pertilla, Walter Dean and Dante Chinni (2007), We Interrupt This Newscast: How to Improve Local TV and Win Ratings, Too (Cambridge University Press)
- Rosenstiel, Tom and Bill Kovach (2011), Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload (Bloomsbury).
- Rosenstiel, Tom and Kelly McBride, editors (2013), The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century (Sage)
In Blur, Rosenstiel and Kovach break down journalism and the media into four types:
- Journalism of Verification: traditional model that puts the highest value on accuracy and context
- Journalism of Assertion: often to be found in digital journalism, puts the highest value on immediacy and volume without extensive critical checking
- Journalism of Affirmation: often to be found in political media, builds loyalty less on verification than on affirming existing beliefs of its audiences by choosing information that serves a purpose and is thus closely related to marketing
- Interest-Group Journalism: designed to look like news but to be found in targeted Web sites or other pieces of work that are usually funded by advocacy groups rather than media institutions, can range from marketing to advocacy journalism.
In all but case 1, journalistic objectivity is usually violated. Verified information in the media is diluted by competing information, making identification and selection of the 'relevant' an ever more time-consuming process.
- "Tom Rosenstiel". Missouri School of Journalism. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- McGuire, Stryker (29 November 2003). "That's show business". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2010.