Because of its political significance, Washington, D.C., although not a huge population center, is home to an international news corps rivaling that of London or New York. The sniper story thus gained unusually broad media coverage. These events also coincided with the rise of cable network news, meaning that the story would be delivered through a greatly accelerated news cycle. Continuous coverage on television meant a more intense race for scoops; when a major development wasn’t available, lesser incidents were sometimes played up in an attempt to maintain the sense of an always unfolding story.
Jack Censer looks at the atmosphere of heightened anxiety in which this killing spree occurred—coming only a year after the 9/11 attacks, as well as the unsolved anthrax scare centered in the D.C. area—and asks if the press, by intensifying its focus, also intensified the sense of fear.To bring in another perspective, Censer looks closely at the elementary and secondary schools in the area, comparing their experience of the threat with the press’s perception, and presentation, of it. In most cases, school officials chose a course of precaution in which life could carry on, rather than one of hypervigilance and lockdowns.
Although it is widely thought that journalists have strong political and commercial biases, Censer reveals that in this case the press was motivated, above all, by the creation of a gripping story to evoke emotion from its audience. One of the most detailed studies yet published of how the press follows a story in the twenty-four-hour news era, this book provides a window on post-9/11 anxiety and the relationship between those fears, public events, and the news media.
Jack R. Censer is Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University. He is the coauthor, with Lynn Hunt, of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution.
The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.
Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.