Attacks on the American Press
A Documentary and Reference Guide
by Jessica Roberts and Adam Maksl
July 2021, 385pp, 8 1/2 x 11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7256-3
$122, £94, 107€, A168
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7257-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

According to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, American journalists have come under physical attack across the United States, with incidents ranging from assault at the hands of far-right protestors and police officers to murder.

This authoritative annotated document collection surveys and explains efforts to censor, intimidate, suppress—and reform and improve—news organizations and journalism in America, from the newspapers of colonial times to the social media that saturates the present day.

This primary source collection will help readers to understand how the press has been vilified (usually by powerful political or corporate interests) over the course of American history, with a special focus on current events and how these efforts to censor or influence news coverage often flout First Amendment protections concerning freedom of the press. Selected documents highlight efforts to intimidate, silence, condemn, marginalize, and otherwise undercut the credibility and influence of American journalism from the colonial era through the Trump presidency.

Most of the featured documents focus on efforts borne out of self-interested attempts to shape or conceal news for political or economic gain or personal fame, but coverage also includes instances in which press actions, attitudes, or priorities deserved censure. All told, the collection will be a valuable resource for understanding the importance of a free press to American life (and the constitutional basis for preserving such), the motivations (both selfish and altruistic) of critics of American journalism from the earliest days of the Republic to today, and the impact of all of the above on American society.


  • More than 65 essential and illuminating primary documents provide key insights into American news media and freedom of the press
  • Primary source selections span the history of American news coverage, from the nation's earliest days to today's Twitter-driven media landscape
  • Informative, authoritative, and balanced introductory notes for each primary source help readers to understand the context in which they were created
  • A Reader's Guide to Related Documents and sidebars connecting readers with additional information on the topic
Jessica Roberts, PhD, is assistant professor of communication studies in the School of Social Sciences at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Lisbon. She is coauthor of American Journalism and "Fake News": Examining the Facts. Roberts earned her PhD at the University of Maryland and her MA at the University of Southern California.

Adam Maksl, PhD, is associate professor of journalism and media at Indiana University Southeast. He is coauthor of American Journalism and "Fake News": Examining the Facts. Maksl earned his PhD at the University of Missouri and his MA from Ball State University.


Top 10 Reference List of 2022—Booklist, May 15, 2022


"A well-curated compilation of important primary documents representing more than 200 years of American aggression toward the media. General readers and students of journalism, communications, history, and political science will find this work useful."—Library Journal, October 1, 2021

"Both informative and readable for those merely interested in the subject. Appropriate for college and high-school libraries."—Booklist, November 30, 2021

Documentary and Reference Guides

Expertly chosen primary source documents, analytical commentary, and comprehensive study resources present Americans grappling directly with complex social and political issues in ways that have had a deep and lasting impact on contemporary society.

Students often are unaware that hotly contested public debates have deep historical roots. Intended to allow readers to engage with history and discover the development of controversial social and political issues over time, the Documentary and Reference Guides series introduces such issues through carefully chosen primary source documents.

The documents analyzed in these volumes encourage critical thinking, offering fresh perspectives as they sweep away preconceptions and restore immediacy to debates that may have become stale. They encourage students to explore for themselves how important issues came to be framed as they are and to consider how contemporary discussion might advance beyond the assumptions and hardened positions of the past.


  • 50–100 primary source documents, topically and chronologically organized, including excerpts from legislation, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, manifestos, broadcast statements, such controversial writings as Thomas Paine's pamphlets and excerpts from the Federalist Papers, and personal writings, such as letters
  • 15–25 photographs
  • Accessible analysis sections and lively sidebars illuminating documents that are crucial to the subject, but relatively legalistic or technical
  • A Reader's Guide to the Documents and Sidebars, organized by subject, to enable readers to pursue particular lines of inquiry through more than one chapter
  • A comprehensive, annotated, general resources section supporting student research needs
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