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October 19, 2010

Media Myths Are Subject of Book Discussion

In “Getting It Wrong,” W. Joseph Campbell Debunks 10 “Misreported” Stories

Did The Washington Post bring down Richard Nixon by reporting on the Watergate scandal? Did a cryptic remark by Walter Cronkite effectively end the Vietnam War? Did William Randolph Hearst vow to "furnish the war" in the 1898 conflict with Spain?

In "Getting It Wrong," W. Joseph Campbell addresses and dismantles what he says are these and other prominent media-driven myths – stories about or by the news media that are widely believed but that, on close examination, he says, prove apocryphal. In a fascinating exploration of these and other cases – including the coverage of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina – Campbell describes how myths like these can feed stereotypes, deflect blame from policymakers and overstate the power and influence of the news media.

Campbell will discuss and sign "Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism" (University of California Press, 2010) on Thursday, Oct. 28 at noon in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is a Books & Beyond presentation sponsored by the Center for the Book and co-sponsored with the Serial and Government Publications Division. It is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

The Post’s reporting of the Watergate scandal is one of the "myths" that Campbell addresses. He writes: "Nixon’s fall was the consequence of his criminal conduct, which was exposed in the convergence of many forces – newspapers being among the least decisive. Journalism’s contribution to Nixon’s fall was modest at best. But it’s far easier to focus on the exploits of the two heroic journalists than it is to grapple with the intricacies and baffling complexities of the Watergate scandal."

W. Joseph Campbell is a professor in the School of Communication at American University. He is the author of four other books, including "Yellow Journalism: Puncturing the Myths, Defining the Legacies" and "The Year That Defined American Journalism: 1897 and the Clash of Paradigms."

His book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at www.facebook.com/booksandbeyond/. Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (www.Read.gov/cfb/) has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s Read.gov website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.

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PR 10-238
10/19/10
ISSN 0731-3527

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