Nikki Usher, Ph.D., associate professor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, will discuss her new book.
Nikki Usher, PhD, associate professor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, will discuss her newly completed book, News for the Rich, White, and Blue, which considers the challenges facing journalism in terms of place, power, and inequality. Drawing on more than a decade of ethnographic research in newsrooms, Usher shows how newsrooms remain places of power, largely white institutions that serve a liberal audience willing to pay, and grow more elite as journalists confront a shrinking job market. She details how Google, Facebook, and the digital-advertising ecosystem have wreaked havoc on the economic model for quality journalism, leaving local news to suffer. Yet Usher is deeply critical of the oft-mythic reverence that news powers democracy. Instead, she points to the ways in which many newspapers have upheld the status quo and how current noncommercial efforts to support journalism overlook partisan distrust in journalism and prioritize liberal causes. Place anchors the book, serving as a multidimensional theoretical reference from which to consider the growing geographic, cultural, and power differential between the news organizations likely to survive and the country they purport to cover.