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Public Journalism

David D. Kurpius


Public journalism is a movement that arose principally among journalists in the United States during the late twentieth century, as an effort to draw the people to the media at a time of declining readership and viewership by showing the value of the media in civic life. Public journalism is also known as “civic,” or less often “community,” journalism. The movement developed in part as an answer to the decline of civic participation that scholars noted ( Yankelovich 1991 ; Merritt 1998 ; Rosen 1999 ; Putnam 2000 ) at a time of renewal in many cities ( Sirianni & Friedland 2001 ). Public journalism refocused news on issues and engagement using a community approach. Its founders believed that journalism could improve public dialogue by developing content that citizens engaged in the deliberative process could use in their communities to develop solutions to common problems. Public journalism inspired discussion among professionals and scholars about the craft of journalism. The debate between →  Walter Lippmann and John Dewey in the 1920s marked a seminal time in determining the role of professional journalists in the United States. Lippmann focused on informing elites and using the media to monitor those in power. Dewey believed citizens were capable of a greater participatory role beyond simply voting. In his view, everyday citizens would deliberate on issues if given the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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