From talking heads on cable news to hot takes online, there seems to be more opinion than ever in journalism these days. There’s an entire body of research about how this shift toward opinionated news impacts the people who consume news, but far less on how these changes impact the people who create it.
tackles some of these questions in her book From News to Talk: The Expansion of Opinion and Commentary in U.S. Journalism
(SUNY Press, 2019). The book features interviews with journalists like Maria Bartiromo and Brian Stelter about why the media landscape is changing, what role (if any) journalists play in the decline of civility in public discourse, and how they work together as communities of practice in an ever-changing profession.
As Meltzer says, today’s news landscape is complex. It recalls a past era of partisan newspapers, with the added wrinkle of 21st-century technology and a desire by some outlets to hold true to the standard of objectivity that became ubiquitous after World War II. In this interview, she offers some advice for journalists, news consumers, and journalism educators about how to think about the relationship between news, opinion, and civility today.
Meltzer is Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. She is also the author of “TV News Anchors and Journalistic Tradition: How Journalists Adapt to Technology” and worked as a broadcast journalist herself before transitioning to academia.
Jenna Spinelle is a journalism instructor at Penn State, host of the Democracy Works podcast, produced by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy.