The Fake News Panic of a Century Ago

Reflections on Globalization, Democracy, and the Media (First Edition)
By Lee W. Huebner
©2019, 394 pages

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The Fake News Panic of a Century Ago

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Summary
    The Fake News Panic of a Century Ago: Reflections on Globalization, Democracy, and the Media is a study in intellectual and social history, focusing on the ways in which public information has been shared over time, and the changing implications of ideas such as globalization and democracy. Just as the term “fake news” has recently exploded into public consciousness, so did the concept of “propaganda” a century ago. Then, as now, the terminology both intrigued and alarmed vast publics and their leaders, challenging traditional hopes for democratic governance.

    Part One examines how new anxieties about public communication have grown out of profound shifts, not only in media technologies, but also in the very structures of social relations and human consciousness. The recent impact of globalization, it argues, has been similar to sharp social and economic disruptions early in the twentieth century. Similarly, a new appreciation for the irrational dimensions of human behavior, then as now, undermined faith in public opinion. The book describes how pioneering leaders in media and political life wrestled a century ago with issues similar to those we face today.

    Part Two looks at how related concepts have evolved throughout human history, including the unpredictable impact of new communications methodologies, the potentially creative tension between globalizing and tribalizing impulses, and the changing relationship of oral and written expression. The book concludes by raising a related paradox: Why has journalistic coverage of world news diminished sharply, even as global interconnectedness has seemingly soared?

    The Fake News Panic of a Century Ago is an excellent supplementary resource for courses in history, international communications, and political theory.

    Former publisher and CEO of the International Herald Tribune newspaper and former special assistant to the President of the United States during the Nixon administration, Lee W. Huebner earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in history from Harvard University. He is the Airlie Professor of Media and Affairs at George Washington University, where he teaches courses on journalism ethics, media and globalization, political speechwriting, and presidential communication.
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