"The whole world is watching!" chanted the demonstrators in the Chicago streets in 1968, as the TV cameras beamed images of police cracking heads into homes everywhere. In this classic book, originally published in 1980, acclaimed media critic Todd Gitlin first scrutinizes major news coverage in the early days of the antiwar movement. Drawing on his own experiences (he was president of the Students for a Democratic Society in 1963-64) and on interviews with key activists and news reporters, he shows in detail how the media first ignore new political developments, then select and emphasize aspects of the story that treat movements as oddities. He then demonstrates how the media glare made leaders into celebrities and estranged them from their movement base; how it inflated the importance of revolutionary rhetoric, destabilizing the movement, then promoted "moderate" alternatives--all the while spreading the antiwar message. Finally, Gitlin draws together a theory of news coverage as a form of anti-democratic social management--which he sees at work also in media treatment of the anti-nuclear and other later movements.
Updated for 2003 with a new preface, The Whole World Is Watching is a subtle and sensitive book, true to the passions and ironic reversals of its subject, and filled with provocative insights that apply to the media's relationship with all activist movements.
Todd Gitlin is the author of ten books, most recently Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Image and Sound Overwhelms Our Lives (2002). He is Professor of Journalism and Sociology at Columbia University.
Praise for the original edition:
"No phenomenon in American life cries out for examination more than the impact of the news media on persons, movements, and events. One need not accept all of Gitlin's provocative conclusions to praise the exacting scholarship that has gone into this study of what happens to an anti-establishment movement performing on an establishment stage."—Daniel Schorr, commentator, National Public Radio
"An enormously useful book. . . . Gitlin writes about the way news organizations, as the category implies, 'organize' the news world, both for practitioners—reporters, editors, and managers—and for the consumers—readers, viewers, and perhaps even more important, decision-makers."—Frank Mankiewicz, Washington Journalism Review
"Gitlin tells us . . . how the New York Times and CBS reported on Students for a Democratic Society, and how their choices mattered for the development of the 60s movement and the containment of serious political change."—Gaye Tuchman, In These Times