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Daily News, Eternal Stories

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Front-Page Myths: The News Story. Part I: The Story of the News Story. Seven Master Myths in the News: Eternal Stories. The Mythological Role of Journalism: Stories for Society. Part II: Case Studies of News as Myth. The Victim: Leon Klinghoffer and News of Tragedy. The Scapegoat: The Killing of Huey Newton and Degrading Political Radicals. The Hero: Mark McGwire and "Godding Up" U.S. Celebrities. The Good Mother: Mother Teresa and the Human Interest Story. The Trickster: Race, the News, and the Rape of Mike Tyson. The Other World: Haiti and International News Values. The Flood: Hurricane Mitch and News of Disasters. Conclusion: News, Myth, and Society: Twelve Propositions.

About the Author

Jack Lule is Professor and Chair in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. He is the author of more than 50 articles, book chapters, essays, and reviews and has won numerous awards for excellence in research and teaching. He serves on the editorial board of Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. A former bartender, truck driver and reporter, Lule continues to be an avid observer of the American scene and a frequent contributor to newspapers and periodicals.


Every culture has shared stories that help define its values. Lule (journalism, Lehigh Univ.) suggests that in modern society news is a form of storytelling that replaces the myths of earlier times. He analyzes seven news stories covered in the New York Times to illustrate how journalists link news items to familiar myths. For example, Lule reviews the Times's coverage of Mother Theresa, from the establishment of her order in 1950 until 1980, when she won the Nobel prize. There were no articles until 1968, but when she was "discovered," journalists used mythic terms to describe the "Good Mother." She was depicted as a maternal figure, praised for her kindness, and offered as a model for us all. Controversial issues that did not fit the mythic pattern such as her failure to advocate for social change in Calcutta or her opposition to family planning were not covered. Lule also examines news reports of Mike Tyson, Hurricane Mitch, and other subjects to illustrate six other myths: the victim, the scapegoat, the hero, the trickster, the other world, and the flood. Academic libraries will want this book for journalism collections. Judy Solberg, George Washington Univ. Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"'Jack Lule has been known for years as a skilled and subtle interpreter of news narratives. In Daily News, Eternal Stories, Lule convincingly argues that storytelling, not information dissemination, is the core activity of journalism. He finds mythic themes in every nook and cranny of the news in stories about everything from terrorism and disaster to the exploits of Mark McGwire, Mother Teresa, and Huey Newton. Daily News, Eternal Stories is a wonderful book smart, humane, witty, and passionate.' - John Pauly, Saint Louis University 'This splendid book enters the debates over the crisis in news with a provocative thesis that no one can ignore. To resolve our confusion over the social role of newsmakers, the author argues for understanding the news as myth. In dramatic fashion, The New York Times becomes state scribe, the latest in a long line of privileged storytellers. Communications scholarship for years has played with the intriguing relation of mythmaking to news. Here that idea finally comes into its own with intelligence, mastery of the literature, and a graceful style. This is a landmark book in the sociology of news.' - Clifford G. Christians, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign 'A century ago, poets and novelists began to experiment with the relation between mythic archetypes and the cliches and stereotypes of everyday existence. Jack Lule approaches these matters from the front pages of the daily press, rather than from the pages of literature. He demonstrates basic mythic patterns in news and shows how news media are busily engaged in reviving and replaying our oldest myths. This book offers a vital perspective for understanding the structure of news in a world bathed in information.' - Eric McLuhan, PhD"

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