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An Aristocracy of Critics

Luce, Hutchins, Niebuhr, and the Committee That Redefined Freedom of the Press

Stephen Bates



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Yale University
12 January 2021
The story behind the 1940s Commission on Freedom of the Press-groundbreaking then, timelier than ever now In 1943, Time Inc. editor-in-chief Henry R. Luce sponsored the greatest collaboration of intellectuals in the twentieth century. He and University of Chicago president Robert Maynard Hutchins summoned the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, the Pulitzer-winning poet Archibald MacLeish, and ten other preeminent thinkers to join the Commission on Freedom of the Press. They spent three years wrestling with subjects that are as pertinent as ever: partisan media and distorted news, activists who silence rather than rebut their opponents, conspiracy theories spread by shadowy groups, and the survivability of American democracy in a post-truth age. The report that emerged, A Free and Responsible Press, is a classic, but many of the commission's sharpest insights never made it into print. Journalist and First Amendment scholar Stephen Bates reveals how these towering intellects debated some of the most vital questions of their time-and reached conclusions urgently relevant today.
By:   Stephen Bates
Imprint:   Yale University
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 160mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   624g
ISBN:   9780300111897
ISBN 10:   0300111894
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   12 January 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Stephen Bates is an associate professor in the Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Reviews for An Aristocracy of Critics: Luce, Hutchins, Niebuhr, and the Committee That Redefined Freedom of the Press

In decades of editing, I have always carried with me the thoughts of A Free and Responsible Press. Stephen Bates does us a service in his vivid account of its creation. -Sir Harold Evans, author of Good Times, Bad Times and The Freedom of the Press A sterling piece of intellectual history of America at midcentury, and an important meditation on the problems of journalism in American life. -Richard Tofel, president of ProPublica Stephen Bates tells an astonishing story about a time when U.S. media outlets were biased, polarizing and distrusted. Sound familiar? This deeply researched, vividly written book speaks directly to the age of trolls and tweetstorms. -William Powers, author of New York Times bestseller Hamlet's BlackBerry An Aristocracy of Critics is an elegant and seminal work about a gathering of mid-20th century intellectuals who presciently examined the role of news media in a democratic society. -Sally Denton, author of The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World

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