If there is one consistency in the last couple decades of the news media, it’s the narrative that people don’t trust it. The lack of trust is not anecdotal—Pew Research Center polls consistently bear this out. But is it really new? The “Witness to History” section of CJR’s 60th Anniversary Issue explores the moments from 1961 to the present when trust in journalism is tested. As Amy Davidson Sorkin writes in the section introduction, “To look back at the coverage of crises in the pages of this magazine is to be reminded that trust is the product of a never-ending negotiation between the press, the public, and those in power.”
This package features a debate between President John F. Kennedy and the press, a roundtable of journalists who were at Kennedy’s assassination, an interview between Fred Friendly and Walter Lippman, America’s founding media critic, a dispatch from inside the 1968 Democratic National Convention (featuring Walter Mondale, Dan Rather, and a jailed Mike Wallace), a profile of Katharine Graham, the prolific publisher of the Washington Post, and notes from a student reporter in downtown Manhattan on 9/11. Together, they show the value—and the pitfalls—of documenting some of the most chaotic moments in American history, and how sometimes, trust in journalism is only as strong as the journalism itself.
––Savannah Jacobson, story editor
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