Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the meaning of journalistic truth, the historical role of moral courage in pursuit of journalistic truth, and the role of journalism as a bulwark of freedom and human rights. It connects the dots between the lived experience of U.S. journalists past and present whose moral choices pitted the need to avoid peril against the need to fulfill the journalist’s truth-seeking role. Abolitionist editor Elijah Lovejoy, who was murdered in 1837 in Alton, Illinois, for standing on moral principle, is heralded in this regard. Not all journalists with moral courage faced their own mortality. Some risked their reputation and their jobs. Not all worked for the mainstream news organizations that dominate journalism history scholarship. Some worked for the Black press, the immigrant press, and the ethnic press, among others. But all risked harm for the story. This chapter calls for studying the phenomenon of journalists at risk in light of a theoretical understanding of the moral dilemma, where the virtue of “truth” collides with the virtue of self-preservation. And it calls for integrating scholarship in this area with the little-told stories of journalists from marginalized groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to American Journalism History
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781000932300
ISBN (Print)9781032156460
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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