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The Problem of Modern Time in American Journalism 1

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Abstract American life seems pressed for time, and journalists claim they must focus on the now because of competition and technology. Shorter news cycles affect the deadlines for producing live reports on television and constant updates online. Without time to investigate or edit, journalists say their work deteriorates, leaving the public uninformed. But our studies of newspaper, television, and internet news reveal that time in news coverage has been expanding into the past and the future for decades, reflecting news reporters’ professional and modernist claims to prioritize events in time. As temporal concepts transformed at the end of the twentieth century, journalists continued producing reports that reflect modern time regimes. The recent closings of mainstream newspapers, and the consequences journalists see for news quality and public policy, flow to some degree from their modernist sense of time that leaves them disconnected from the current time regime.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Communication (MC-132) 1007 W. Harrison St. BSB 1148A University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL 60607–7137


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