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News For All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media

Bestselling narrative history of American media that puts race at the center of the story.

From colonial newspapers to the Internet age, America’s racial divisions have played a central role in the creation of the country’s media system, just as the media has contributed to—and every so often, combated—racial oppression. This acclaimed book—called a “masterpiece” by the esteemed scholar Robert W. McChesney and chosen as one of 2011's best books by the Progressive—reveals how racial segregation distorted the information Americans have received, even as it depicts the struggle of Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American journalists who fought to create a vibrant yet little-known alternative, democratic press.

Written in an exciting, story-driven style and replete with memorable portraits of journalists, both famous and obscure, News for All the People is destined to become the standard history of the American media.

Reviews

  • “Juan González and Joseph Torres have rendered a splendid public service with this highly readable and engrossing story of how the press sees—and doesn’t see—who we are as a people. Race and ethnicity, power and privilege, the visible and the invisible are at the core of our democratic crisis today, and it’s hard to imagine a better way to face the challenge than to be armed with the story this book tells so well.”
  • News for All the People is truly a masterpiece; I could not put it down. After years of research, Juan González and Joseph Torres have produced a book that will be nothing short of mandatory reading for all who care about the media or democracy. It will change how you think about media and American history.”
  • “A ‘first-of-its-kind’ rendering of the causes, contexts, and consequences of the American media system across the fault line of race. Haunting and prophetic, this is a must-read for all the people.”
  • “With clarity, exquisite detail and strong scholarship, the authors show us how the neglect of the mainstream press over the years still haunts the nation’s identity about who is an American.”
  • “The historic inability of marginalized communities to control their own images has been devastating. News for All the People illustrates that this lack of control hasn’t been by accident. It’s a part of a greater story of media control and ownership that traces back to the creation of the United States. An essential read.”
  • “This is journalism history from an entirely fresh perspective, one that challenges the old heroes and shines a sharp light on the role of the media in revealing social inequities in a democratic society.”
  • “Meticulously researched, adeptly written, and most important, historically significant…an important work.”
  • “With vivid detail, González and Torres trace the history of minority journalism in the United States from Colonial newspapers to today’s blogs. This important text should be required reading in journalism schools.”
  • “Examines some of the news media’s dirtiest laundry — the media’s active roles in lynching Blacks, exterminating Native Americans and brutally harassing Hispanics and Asian-Americans...insightful [and] awareness-expanding.”
  • “When journalists write history, there is always the danger of that history being shallow, surface-level. This remarkable book is one of the rare instances of such a problem being a positive, due to its great, realized ambition. For this narrative successfully weaves the history of Black media, Native American media, Hispanic media and Asian media within the context of the history of America’s capitalistic media development. As 2011 ends, Gonzalez and Torres provide not just a clear understanding of how the enemy built the empire, but merge historical ideas on how to use the new/old tools at our disposal to resist it.”
  • “[This] groundbreaking book takes the reader on a 400-year journey from the past transgressions to today’s democratic crisis, one largely created by the deeds of those controlling the media and the narratives our citizens are actually 'consuming.' It delves deeply into why those narratives are slanted, misrepresented or scrubbed altogether by the so-called liberal media.”
  • “Offers constant reminders that this conflict has been a true civil war with serious casualties, lasting through many decades and perhaps yet ended. The journalists portrayed here recognized that journalism was a weapon of resistance. If there have been advances, it is in good part because such journalism, bravely wielded, can fight the good fight.”
  • “[An] acclaimed history of race and the US media, which will be a core book for readers in journalism and US history.”

Blog

  • Japanese Internment and the Media

    Last week, the Los Angeles Times published two letters defending the US government's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The Times has since issued an apology.

    The apology does not mention the active part that the
    Times and many other metropolitan dailies took in fomenting vicious anti-Japanese sentiment and defending the forced removal of Japanese Americans. Below we present a brief survey of the role the American newsmedia played in Japanese internment, excerpted from Juan González and Joseph Torres' News for All the People: the Epic Story of Race and the American Media.



    On February 19th, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the US military to exclude any resident of the country from certain designated military zones for national security purposes. Government officials proceeded to round up some 120,000 Japanese nationals, more than two-thirds of them US citizens, and forcibly relocate them to military camps for the duration of the war. Japanese internment was to become one of the most shameful government actions in the nation’s history. Critics saw it as a gross violation of democratic principles and due process rights, especially since US participation in the war was aimed at defeating Axis aggression and the Nazi ideology of racial supremacy. More than forty years later, Congress finally apologized for the internment policy and awarded $20,000 in compensation to each surviving victim.

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  • Past the Horse Race: US Politics Beyond the Election

    Never particularly attentive to the lives of ordinary people — or developments outside the major hubs of government, capital, and entertainment — the American news media becomes especially myopic and trivial during the presidential election season, which seems to grow longer and more encompassing every four years.

    In an effort to better understand some of the stories being left behind by the horse race, we asked writers and activists from across the United States for brief reports on political developments and campaigns, both electoral and otherwise, that have been significant in their respective regions over the past year. Below are responses from Jim Vrabel in Boston, Madison Van Oort in Iowa, Kali Akuno in Mississippi, Darwin BondGraham in the San Francisco Bay Area, Marisela B. Gomez in Baltimore, and Charles Tonderai Mudede in Seattle.

    While these six reports represent too small and arbitrary a sample to allow for any broad conclusions, it is striking that struggles over housing and land use are at the center of nearly every one of them.




    A protest in Baltimore opposing public financing for Port Covington. via Popular Resistance.   

    Jim Vrabel: Housing and Income Inquality in Boston


    “Everybody complains about the weather,” the old saying used to be (before global warming) “but nobody does anything about it.” Nowadays, everybody complains about housing prices and income inequality. In Boston and Massachusetts, some people are doing something about it.

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  • Spanish-language and Latino Media and the US Election: How The News is Sold to Indignation Nation



    The 2016 Presidential campaign has been a very significant one for Latinxs, often referred to as the “sleeping giant” of the electorate. While Republican candidate Donald Trump astonished most media observers with his set of shifting, unorthodox political positions, it’s been his crudely racist and sexist discourse that have become the campaign’s central focus. Yet his relentless attacks demonizing immigrants from Mexico and Central America and conflating them with the national security issues represented by border enforcement--represented by his dubious wall-building dream--have put our interests in a narrowly defined box, obscuring discussion of other issues critical for Latinxs. 

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