Matthew Pressman, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Journalism within the College of Communication and the Arts, recently released his first book, On Press: The Liberal Values That Shaped the News, published by Harvard University Press. The book examines the historical underpinnings of the news media, exploring how journalism in the 1960's-80's unveiled the characteristics of contemporary journalism recognizable today.
Pressman's analysis is the first to explore the foundation of journalism's principles through a historical lens, drawing upon five years of extensive research. Stemming from his doctoral dissertation, On Press reveals how the impact of new technologies, political milestones, and business needs challenged the industry and its determination to survive.
"There is a distinct relationship between the news and society's understanding of the industry. People have different ideas about the press, but there is little understanding about why and how the news media became the way it is today," said Pressman. "On Press traces the values of mainstream journalism in terms readers can understand."
The book also suggests contemporary journalism is fast approaching toward an entirely new narrative: an evolutionary chapter of change. "Journalism's values are changing again today, because news organizations are looking for new business models that will work in the digital age," noted Pressman. "With so many news outlets to choose from, and with the country so polarized politically, it’s hard to gain a loyal mass audience. It's very similar to the situation that existed 50 years ago, which I discuss in my book."
Deirdre Yates, Dean of the College of Communication and the Arts noted, "We are so very proud of Dr. Pressman. His consistent and insightful contributions to the field of journalism are invaluable to our College. His work demonstrates the value in having a voice – something we instill in our students daily."
Pressman's work has also received feedback from colleagues in the news industry, commenting on the value On Press brings to journalism's history and status.
"My prayers for a new way to think about the so-called crisis over 'trust' in the press have been answered thanks to media scholar Matthew Pressman's erudite new history, On Press... Pressman's framing helps explain, in my mind at least, President Donald Trump’s broadsides against what he calls the 'fake news' and why measurements of trust in the news profession decline." – Jack Shafer of Politico Magazine: "The Surprising Reason the Right Doesn’t Trust the News"
"On Press is the ultimate story behind all the stories… In an age when the press is alternately villain or hero, Pressman serves as a kind of medicine man of journalism, telling us how we got from there to here." – Graydon Carter, former editor of Vanity Fair.
In anticipation of the book's publication, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication's History Division (AEJMC) recently published an excerpt of Pressman's work within its News Portal. AEJMC is an internationally recognized educational association in the journalism and mass communication fields, with over 3,700 members from 50 countries.
Prior to joining academia, Pressman worked at Vanity Fair for eight years as an assistant editor and online columnist. He credits his time as a journalist in helping him refine his academic focus and specialty, the history of journalism.