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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

May 19, 1996|CHRIS GOODRICH

NEWS VALUES: Ideas for an Information Age by Jack Fuller (University of Chicago Press: $22.95; 251 pp.). Few journalism critiques, if any, have borrowed ideas from Simone de Beauvoir, but Chicago Tribune publisher Jack Fuller found something very apt in "The Second Sex." De Beauvoir's description of the relationship between lovers, he writes, is like that between a newspaper and its community: Each party likes to see its best side reflected in the other, but not so closely that the reflection seems obsequious, hollow, counterfeit.

The complex relationship between a newspaper and its readers lies at the heart of "News Values," for Fuller--lawyer and novelist as well as publisher--is concerned not only with the standard media-critic issues (fairness, accuracy, ethics, bias, objectivity), but also with a newspaper's role in society. He recognizes that the adversarial model of journalism can be harmful to society, that the reporter's role should be "more like the judge's than the lawyer's."

Fuller's publisher's-eye view of newspapers is in some ways limiting, however, for it leads him toward a businessman's view of newspapering; for example, he agrees with legendary Chicago Tribune publisher Col. Robert McCormick that "the first objective of a newspaper is to make a profit" while failing to note that some newspapers are run by not-for-profit foundations.

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