Becoming the News: How Ordinary People Respond to the Media Spotlight

Ruth Palmer '01

What does it feel like to be featured, quoted, or just named in a news story? A refugee family, the survivor of a shooting, a primary voter in Iowa―the views and experiences of ordinary people are an important component of journalism. While much has been written about how journalists work and gather stories, what do we discover about the practice of journalism and attitudes about the media by focusing on the experiences of the subjects themselves?

Based on dozens of interviews, Becoming the News: How Ordinary People Respond to the Media Spotlight asks how ordinary people make sense of their experience as media subjects. Ruth Palmer argues that understanding those experiences—whether voluntary or otherwise—sheds light on the practice of journalism. (Columbia University Press, 2017)

Becoming the News by Ruth Palmer '01