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W. Joseph Campbell's myth-busting book

The award-winning book, Getting It Wrong, confronts and debunks prominent media-driven myths, including several of the most cherished stories American journalism tells about itself.

Media-driven myths are well-known stories about and/or by the news media that are widely believed and often retold, but which, under scrutiny, prove to be false or wildly exaggerated.

A new and expanded second edition of Getting It Wrong addresses the first Kennedy-Nixon televised debate in 1960, the "Napalm Girl" photograph of the late Vietnam War, and bogus quotations driven by the Internet and social media.

Read Chapter One

Critical acclaim for first edition of GETTING IT WRONG:

  • "Persuasive and entertaining ... With old-school academic detachment, Mr. Campbell, a communications professor at American University, shows how the fog of war, the warp of ideology and muffled skepticism can transmute base journalism into golden legend." — Wall Street Journal

  • "This may be the best book about journalism in recent memory; it is certainly the most subversive." — Commentary magazine

  • "I especially admire the disciplined way Campbell corrects so many flawed records without taking cheap shots at the perpetrators ... Of course when you do such a good job punishing the error, as Campbell does, you don't need to bother with the errant." — Slate.com

  • "An exquisitely researched and lively look at an industry that too often shines the light on itself more than it does on events and public figures." — Denver Post

  • "Every journalism student and reporting teacher should study Getting It Wrong, in which Joseph Campbell ... separates the myth and legend from reality in ten legendary news stories. He presents extensive documentation to support his analysis."
    Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

  • Getting It Wrong reinforces the necessity of healthy skepticism; a commitment to fully understanding the implications of ones research; and the importance of cultivating diverse, credible sources and viewpoints for probing, quality journalism. ... In each chapter, Campbell delivers pithy, well-researched correctives for each sensational claim. — JHistory


Listen to the author's discussion about media-driven myths, including the notion that Walter Cronkite's 1968 report on Vietnam altered U.S. public policy, turned public opinion against the war, and prompted President Lyndon Johnson not to seek reelection.


C-SPAN's Q&A program on Getting It Wrong, 2010


Follow the author on Twitter @wjosephcampbell