Want a real feel of the past? Skim newspapers of the era

New York, Dec 18 (IANS) To get a real feel of what was happening during a certain period in history and how people really felt about the issues of the day, take a look at how the media covered the events that unfolded during that period.

News is a cultural mirror of what is going on in society at that point in time, said one of the researchers Geri Alumit Zeldes, professor at Michigan State University in the US.

“If you take a look at the newspapers at the time they were published, they will give you hints as to what the times were like,” she said.

Zeldes said that by reviewing the newspapers’ stances on the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case that legalised inter-racial marriage in the US, it gives us a clue to the political and cultural mood of the time.

“It indicates,” she said, “that some segments of society in the late 1960s were ready to lessen social and cultural marriage restrictions, but that other groups in the United States were still undecided,” Zeldes said.

As today’s journalists report on civil rights issues – namely same-sex marriage, racial equality and economic injustice – they should keep in mind that they are historians, she pointed out.

“Fifty years from now, media scholars will unearth news stories to deconstruct them, aiming to learn about public opinion during that time,” Zeldes said.

“In that sense, journalists need to approach their stories as living documents, perhaps by providing voice to not just one side, but the multiple sides operating in these complex issues,” she noted.

The study was published in the Journal of Social Issues.

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