Part memoir, part social history, Journalists and Their Shadows captures the deplorable state of the American media in our time—recording its deterioration, its moments of crisis and ultimately, its transformation as seen through the eyes of a journalist engaged at its very heart through all its phases. The press had a bad Cold War, Patrick Lawrence contends, and never recovered from it, having never acknowledged its errors and so unable to learn from them.
Its dysfunctional relationship with the national security state today is strikingly reminiscent of how it was in the Cold War’s earliest days. With remarkable fidelity, all the old errors are being repeated. As a result, the mainstream American media have entered into a period of profound transformation, in the course of which independent media are emerging as the profession’s most dynamic sector—and represent, indeed, the promise of a brilliant future.
A weave of three elements, Lawrence’s book offers a searing cultural and political critique, punctuated by the kind of piquant detail only insiders can provide. He also makes the case for a way forward—an optimistic case based on the vitality now apparent among independent media. Here, too, he is at home, providing the book’s most original coverage of this brave new world. He draws upon many years in the profession, a multitude of mainstream outlets. As a journalist, he has written for numerous publications, from the Guardian (US ), the New York Times, the Daily News, The New Yorker, Newsweek, and The Christian Science Monitor to the International Herald Tribune and the Far Eastern Economic Review. His foreign affairs and media commentary has appeared in a variety of publications such as Salon, CounterPunch, The Nation, Raritan, Consortium News, ScheerPost, Current Concerns, Horizons et débats, and Zeit–Fragen.
Shadows probes the psychological dilemma that must be understood if we are to address the current crisis. Journalists in our time are divided within themselves—driven to meet thoroughly professional but ideologically conformist standards, but on the other, subliminally struggling to breach the barriers that preclude the truths they know should be conveyed. This latter, as Jung has put it, is the journalist’s shadow. Shadows’ case for the reintegration of the divided journalist is striking and original. This record of the American media’s increasingly shabby betrayal of the public trust sheds light on why the American public thought and thinks the way it does, how it has become aware that the truth it seeks is absent, and where and how it may yet be able to ferret it out.
Here is a guide to the future, in fact, of journalism itself