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“The Fine Grained Data …That Only Careful Ethnographic Work Can Yield”

February 22, 2011

Reading the news in New Delhi

The most recent edition of the journal Journalism had a very nice review of Elizabeth Bird’s book The Anthropology of News and Journalism (Indiana University Press, 2010).

The reviewer had this to say about my chapter:

Mark Peterson’s chapter set in New Delhi demonstrates the fine-grained data on news literacies that only careful ethnographic work can yield; his analyses of such phrases as “taking the newspaper,” raddi, and “common man” that circulate amidst his informants reveal the profound embeddedness of news in webs of social relations.

“The fine-grained data  … that only careful ethnographic work can yield” is, in fact, what I’m going for in all my work in Egypt, India and the United States. It is gratifying (not to say flattering) to have this recognized.

While we’re on the subject, I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in news media. If there is anything new to say on these subjects, it is likely to come from anthropology, if only because that field is a relative latecomer to the study of media generally and news media in particular.

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