pack journalism



Republican Party primary candidate Fred Thompson (right, in the blue shirt) speaking to reporters travelling on his bus during his 2008 United States presidential campaign. The term pack journalism was coined by Timothy Crouse who had observed the behaviour of such reporters during the 1972 US presidential election.

Coined by the American journalist and writer Timothy Crouse (born 1947) in his book The Boys on the Bus (1973) about the activities of journalists during the 1972 United States presidential election: see the quotation.



pack journalism (uncountable)

  1. (journalism, derogatory) A tendency of reporting to become homogeneous due to the reporters' habit of relying on one another for news tips, or being dependent on a single source for information. [from c. 1973]
    • 1973, Timothy Crouse, The Boys on the Bus[1], New York, N.Y.: Random House, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2003, →ISBN:
      The press likes to demonstrate its power by destroying lightweights, and pack journalism is never more doughty and complacent than when the pack has tacitly agreed that a candidate is a joke. As soon as a candidate shows his vulnerability by getting flustered, or by arguing when he shouldn't argue, the pack is delighted to treat him as the class clown.
    • 1973 May 23, “The Role of the News Media: An Interview with Howard K[ingsbury] Smith and Peter Lisagor [transcript]”, in United States of America Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 93d Congress, First Session, volume 119, part 13, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 759830483, page 16818, columns 2–3:
      Problems of pack journalism [heading] [] I think the herd instinct expression is one that I would use, too. I frankly try deliberately to find out which way the herd is going and run the other way.
    • 2002, Mary Douglas Vavrus, “Postfeminist Identities, Neoliberal Ideology, and Women of the Year”, in Postfeminist News: Political Women in Media Culture (SUNY Series in Communication Studies), Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, →ISBN, pages 84–85:
      The composition of the Year of the Woman discourse and its trajectory during this thirteen-month "year" revealed nuance in the construction of women candidates as political subjects but also demonstrated the pack journalism practices that abounded during this time. The differences between local and national television and print news coverage were few and consisted specifically of patterns of gendered signifiers and discourse found within news coverage of Boxer, Braun, Feinstein, Murray, and Yeakel.
    • 2013, Ann Davis Vaughan, “The Gestation Period of a Llama (or Why I Quit the Wall Street Journal)”, in J. J. Hornblass, Michele Turk, and Tom Vogel, editors, Ink Stained: Essays by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Class of 1992, [s.l.]: Ink Stains Press, →ISBN, page 31:
      If talented business journalists care at all about the long-term portability of their skills in a shrinking media world, succumbing to pack journalism in the crowded general news category is no way out. It makes senior, expensive reporters expendable. That was not the direction I wanted my career to be heading.


Derived termsEdit


Further readingEdit