Today our society needs, first, a truthful, comprehensive, and intelligent account of the day's events in a context which gives them meaning; second, a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism; third, a means of projecting the opinions and attitudes of the groups in the society to one another; fourth, a method of presenting and clarifying the goals and values of the society; and, fifth, a way of reaching every member of the society by the currents of information, thought, and feeling which the press supplies.Objectivity as Strategic Ritual: An Examination of Newsmen's Notions of Objectivity (1972)
To journalists, like social scientists,2 the term "objectivity" stands as a bulwark between themselves and critics. Attacked for a controversial presentation of "facts," newspapermen invoke their objectivity almost the way a Mediterranean peasant might wear a clove of garlic around his neck to ward off evil spirits.Untended Gates: The Mismanaged Press (1986)
The unprofessional gatekeeper system clearly has to be judged as being one of the root causes of the steady slide of public confidence in journalism.Governing with the News: The News Media as a Political Institution (1998)
Instead, the news media share more with two other political institutions: the political parties, and the interest group system.Uncertain Guardians: The News Media as a Political Institution (1999)
In this book I build on the work of Cater and his successors, Leon Sigal and Herbert Cans in particular, to explain why the news media effectively constitute a political institution and why this fact matters to students of American politics.Snob Journalism: Elitism Versus Ethics for a Profession in Crisis (2003)
Most journalists don't know the history of their profession, have not read great works of their predecessors and have not read even the small number of major philosophical works produced by journalists.The State of the News Media: Public Attitudes (2007)
When psychologist Bill Damon and his colleagues were researching their book "Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet," they found they had never studied a profession that did as poor a job as journalism of handing down the collected wisdom of one generation to another.
All that comes, of course, against a background of more than 20 years of growing skepticism about journalists, their companies and the news media as an institution. As we have noted in other reports,since the early 1980s, the public has come to view the news media as less professional, less accurate, less caring, less moral and more inclined to cover up rather than correct mistakes.
UPDATE: The above are, of course, supplements to Andy's required reading for journalists (pro-am and networked).
(Updated for 2010)
Culture War: Institutions vs. Media