From News to Talk

The Expansion of Opinion and Commentary in US Journalism

By Kimberly Meltzer

Subjects: Communication, Political Communication, Cultural Studies, American Politics, Political Sociology
Hardcover : 9781438473499, 270 pages, April 2019
Paperback : 9781438473482, 270 pages, January 2020

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Table of contents

List of Interviews Conducted with Journalists

1. Journalism in the Current Era
How Journalists Dealt with the Rhetoric of Trump and Others during the 2016 Election Cycle
What Journalists Said after the 2016 Election
Why Examine Journalistic Discourse?
Journalists as Communities of Practice

2. The Increase in Talk in News
Journalistic Models
Has Opinion in News Increased?
Opinion Journalism Is Increasing through Journalists' Social Media Use
Why Has Opinion in News Increased?
CNN's (Jeff Zucker's) Strategy to "Diversify" Programming
Journalists Starting Their Own Self-Branded Sites

3. Journalists’ Perspectives on Incivility and Opinion in Digital News Media
Definitions of Civility
Research about Civility, Politics, and Journalism

4. Journalists' Perspectives on Opinion, Commentary, and Incivility in All Types of News
Reasons for the Increase in Incivility, Uncivil Tone of Political Discourse in Media
Differences in Opinion and Commentary According to Medium
Increases in Opinion and Commentary Are Positive or Neutral
Opinion and Commentary from Regular People/Bloggers/ Citizen Journalists through Social Media Are More Important than What's Coming From, or Through the Filter of, Legacy/Big Media
Not Concerned for the Audience because of Opinion in News
Concerned for the Audience because of Incivility in News
Not Concerned about Incivility
Concern about Incivility from/perpetuated by Audiences, Regular People
Not Concerned with Uncivil Comments from Users/Audience
Whether Bad or Good, the Heated and Uncivil Expression of Opinion Has Been Around for a Long Time
Lack of Labeling Content as Opinion Can Be Concerning for Audiences
Increases in Opinion and Commentary Have Negative Impacts
A Generational Difference?
Calling It "Point-of-View Journalism"; or Similar, rather than Opinion or Commentary
How Journalists Who Provide Opinionated Content Think of Themselves and Their Own Work

5. Opinion ≠ Incivility: The Case of PBS's Brooks and Shields
Mediated Political Discourse
Discussion: How Do We Account for Civility?

6. Symbolic or Just Coincidence: How Journalists Made Sense of Katie's, Anderson's, and Brian's Talk Show Experiments
Why Didn't Katie's, Anderson's, and Brian's New Programs Work?
The Brian Williams Scandal

7. Journalists' Thoughts about the Future of News
Opinion Is Here to Stay
Personalization of News Will Continue
The Notoriety and Brand of Individual Journalists
The Success and Survival of Different News Mediums
Predictions about the Future of Newspapers

8. Where We Go from Here
Avenues for Future Research, and Implications


Explores how journalists think and talk about changes in the news environment, with a focus on the increase in opinion and commentary.


From News to Talk examines what journalists think about the movement toward often opinionated, sometimes uncivil, talk in news. It provides an important intervention in debates about the future of news by investigating what journalists themselves perceive as the forces affecting this movement, the effects of this shift on audiences and political culture, and how the movement from news to talk affects their roles and authority in society. Drawing on more than thirty interviews with journalists and other industry professionals and a decade of published journalistic materials, Kimberly Meltzer uncovers the technological, economic, cultural, and political forces affecting the movement toward opinion and commentary—or talk—in television, online, print, and radio news. From CNN's Brian Stelter, to Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, the Washington Post's Paul Farhi, and many other journalists from CBS, USA Today, POLITICO, and HuffPost, the interviewees are key figures in journalism. Her analysis centers around several key case studies, including the increase in opinionated talking heads on television and the ushering in of a new era of talk and entertainment programs, the strategy by CNN to broaden its definition of news by adding non-news programs, and the bevy of star journalists starting their own self-branded sites.

Kimberly Meltzer is Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. She is the author of TV News Anchors and Journalistic Tradition: How Journalists Adapt to Technology.


"Because Meltzer goes straight to the sources behind modern journalism, readers are afforded valuable and oft-overlooked insights into the individual thought processes behind the creation of news. With minimal, to-the-point commentary on interviews, this book provides a great resource for media, political science, and journalism scholars interested in understanding both the shift itself and the voices behind the changing news industry. " — Mass Communication and Society

"…concisely structured in clear and readable language, From News to Talk should embrace a wider audience, which will arouse great interest among those who are committed to studies in sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, communication and mass media, American history, and so on … the scope of this book reaches far beyond mass media studies … This illuminating and informative book is readily intelligible to general readers, students, and researchers. " — International Journal of Communication

"This is an important work of journalistic scholarship that will influence future generations of journalists and teachers of journalism. It is grounded in historical and theoretical contexts while providing a novel approach to understanding an important issue through a practical lens—through the eyes of journalists. " — Lea Hellmueller, author of The Washington, DC Media Corps in the 21st Century: The Source-Correspondent Relationship