In CJR’s second issue, William L. Rivers presented a survey-data heavy article analyzing the Washington press corps. Rivers’s study was an update of The Washington Correspondents, a similar 1937 book. He argued that D.C. reporters were more professional than their counterparts three decades earlier, less likely to believe that their copy was subject to publishers’ political whims, and more likely to be paid far above an average worker’s wage. For today’s readers, it offers a snapshot of reporting in the age of Kennedy’s Camelot, and shows the continued dominance of some outlets (over 80% of reporters said they relied on The New York Times) and the absence of others (the most praised magazine was The Reporter which folded in 1968). Rivers’s article, based on thesis research, was expanded into The Opinion Makers, a book published in 1965 by Beacon Press, and hailed in the Political Science Quarterly as a “refreshingly candid look at some of the kingpins of American journalism.” The below paragraph originally ran above the article.
It has been said that most scholarly research is superseded within twenty years. By that criterion, Leo Rosten’s The Washington Correspondents has held up remarkably well. Still, a quarter of a century has brought major changes in the capital press corps. A broad new study of its composition was needed—and has been done. The author, who was twelve years old when Rosten’s study was published, did much of his research while working in Washington as a correspondent for The Reporter magazine and earning a Ph.D. in political science at American University. Before that, he worked on newspapers in Louisiana and Florida and contributed articles to many magazines. He is now an associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas and is completing a book that grew from his dissertation, The Washington Correspondents and Government Information.