Carter Journalism Institute Professor Mitchell Stephens is the author of a new biography on broadcaster Lowell Thomas, a forerunner to Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.
New York University Journalism Professor Mitchell Stephens, author of a new biography on broadcaster Lowell Thomas, a forerunner to Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, is available for comment on the role of journalism in the 20th century and in the Age of Trump.
“In the current political climate, we have been taking a lesson in the weaknesses and strengths of traditional journalism,” observes Stephens. “Lowell Thomas—who for some decades was as well-known as a journalist has ever been in the United States—probably did as much to invent this journalism as anyone.”
In The Voice of America: Lowell Thomas and the Invention of 20th-Century Journalism (St. Martin’s Press; June 20, 2017), Stephens chronicles the life of this news pioneer who began delivering America’s first national radio newscast in 1930 and whose travels took him to Tibet, where he met the young Dalai Lama, as well as to Alaska, Afghanistan, and other global stops.
But, in this inaugural biography of Thomas, who brought the story of “Lawrence of Arabia” to the West, Stephens takes the reader through the adventurer’s real legacy: the creation of nonpartisan, objective, and trusted journalism that served as a model for generations of anchors and reporters and that could attract the nation’s attention and respect—one that the author acknowledges no longer holds the favor it once did.
“The variety of journalism practiced by Lowell Thomas, along with most of his professional ‘grandchildren,’ is in many ways no longer, in the 21st century, our journalism,” Stephens observes. “A country that, before Lowell, had been divided geographically is increasingly divided, after Lowell, by cable network, website or Twitter feed. And this new, more fragmented media environment has also altered what we ask from journalism.”
Stephens, a professor at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, is also the author of A History of News, a New York Times "notable book of the year," and Beyond News: The Future of Journalism.
Reporters wishing to speak with Stephens should contact James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Requests for review copies should be directed to Staci Burt, St. Martin’s Press:
email@example.com or 646-307-5570.