What journalists miss when they ignore historyRoundup
tags: News, history, journalism, current events
Kathryn Palmer is a graduate student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and previously served as the historian of the State Archives of Florida.
Earnest Perry is a historian and serves as associate dean for graduate studies at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
A downpour of historic events saturated the year 2018. Or did it? Journalists and historians might have divergent answers.
History-making is a recurring theme of today’s media coverage, blasted across the instant-access social media platforms.
Take for example, a New York Times headline from July that promised to unpack the “biggest trade war in economic history,” quoting China’s Ministry of Commerce. Or Time Magazine’s September cover story which declared that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “changed America.” Or this November photo gallery published in the Tampa Bay Times, documenting busy election officials gearing up for a “historic recount.”
Each story was big news, to be sure, but each also had robust historical precedent.
American media historian Earnest Perry says journalists would do well to consider the historical antecedents of breaking news — ignoring the context diminishes the media’s credibility.
I asked Perry, who also serves as associate dean for graduate studies at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, about the relationship between journalists and historians, what journalists are missing, and how a deeper understanding of history can improve the 24-hour news cycle.This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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