Dr. Matthew Pressman, an Assistant Professor of Journalism in the College of Communication and the Arts, released his first book, “On Press: The Liberal Values That Shaped the News,” earlier this month. Harvard University Press published the book.
“The Liberal Values That Shaped the News” considers the historical foundation of the news media. It explores how the journalism of the 1960s-1980s has shaped contemporary journalism for how it is known today.
Pressman began his research for the book in early 2013 while still in graduate school at Boston University.
“My research focuses in particular on two newspapers: the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times,” he explained in an email. “It’s a history of American journalism in the 1960s and 70s. It shows how that era’s changes gave rise to the kind of journalism we take for granted today: a journalism that interprets the news, challenges the powerful, caters to its audience, and draws intense criticism from the right and the left.”
The author was inspired to write “On Press” because of his wish to connect the origins of journalism with journalism as we know it today.
“I wanted to try to answer the question of when and how the mainstream American press became the way it is,” Pressman said. “Like many people, I had some general ideas, but I felt no one had ever tried to examine the question in a systematic way.”
Students shared their excitement about Pressman’s publication.
Ashleigh Wilkerson, a senior journalism major is excited about her professor’s book, particularly since she is enrolled in his class this semester and knows him as an educator.
“Seeing Dr. Pressman write and publish his first book is not only inspiring but very motivational as well,” Wilkerson said. “I remember earlier in the semester when he mentioned being published and seeing the excitement on his face was pretty awesome.”
“He’s incredibly knowledgeable, and takes pride in his craft as a Professor so I can only imagine the quality of information he’s shared in his text. I know it’s going to be a best seller! He wears many hats as an educator, husband, and now a published author. I’m definitely inspired by his work ethic and the way in which he makes it look so easy. I wish him so much success.”
Aubrey Casterline, a sophomore majoring in creative writing and philosophy, is working toward her MFA and becoming a professor herself, so she identifies with and aspires for Pressman’s success.
“I think it is cool to see professors writing while teaching because it is a goal of mine to do the same,” Casterline said. “Currently, I am striving towards receiving an MFA and becoming a professor with the ability to write whenever I have the time to do so.”
Casterline wants to follow in the footsteps of her professors.
“Seeing my professors write makes me feel that being a professor is the right profession for me because I can teach people, learn from them, and write, all at the same time,” she said. “Now, would I read the books my professors write, probably not because I want to spend my free time reading something not academic since I have to read a lot for my major.”
Kiah Conway, a senior majoring in creative writing and philosophy, had similar sentiments.
“It is definitely inspiring to see my professors write and publish books,” Conway said. “Knowing that my professors are still relevant in the academia world is really important and inspiring to me.”
She also finds that Dr. Pressman’s ability to balance his teaching and writing are admirable.
“Knowing professors like Dr. Pressman are able to both teach and write/publish books inspires me to consider the same. While it must be incredibly hard and time consuming to do both, it’s inspiring as an aspiring writer to see professors do so much and do such a great job at it,” she explained.
Dr. Pressman’s hope for his readers is that they obtain a clearer understanding of what journalism entails after reading his work.
“I hope people will get a better understanding of why journalists cover the news the way they do,” Pressman said. “I also hope people will appreciate the parallels between what was happening in journalism and politics 50 years ago and what’s happening today. The similarities are really striking, as I think most readers will notice.”
Kaitlyn Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.