W. Joseph Campbell is an American writer, educator, historian, media critic, and blogger. He has written seven solo-authored books, the most recent of which examines polling failure in U.S. presidential elections. The title is Lost in a Gallup, which has been praised as a “bracing reality check.”

Campbell’s work includes the award-winning, media-mythbusting book, Getting It Wrong (University of California Press, 2010, 2017). Getting It Wrong inspired critics to refer to Campbell “the man who calls journalists on their own B.S.” and “the master of debunk.

He also is the author of the well-received 1995: The Year the Future Began (University of California Press, 2015) and The Year That Defined American Journalism: 1897 and the Clash of Paradigms (Routledge, 2006).

Campbell is a professor of communication at American University in Washington, D.C. He earned his doctorate in mass communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before entering the academy, Campbell was a professional journalist for 20 years, a career that took him across North America to Europe, West Africa, and parts of Asia.

He earned his undergraduate degree at Ohio Wesleyan University which awarded him its Distinguished Alumni Citation at a ceremony in 2014, shown in the image below.

Recent Posts: Commentary: W. Joseph Campbell

Why polls failed in 2020 still unclear

(A version of this essay originally was posted at the Conversation online site on 20 May 2021.) More than six months after the acute polling embarrassment in the 2020 U.S. elections, survey experts examining what went wrong are uncertain about what led to the sharpest discrepancy between the polls and popular vote outcome since Ronald […]

Recalling the ‘New York Times,’ Bay of Pigs suppression myth, 60 years on

(A version of this essay originally was posted at the Conversation online site on 2 April 2021.) Sixty years ago today, the New York Times is said to have muzzled itself in reporting about plans for the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion, earning a lasting niche of dishonor in the history of American journalism. The […]

Getting it right about a legendary newspaper editorial

(This essay was first posted at Media Myth Alert blog on 21 December 2020.) The timeless paean to childhood and the Christmas spirit, published in 1897 in the old New York Sun, long ago became the single best-known, most-reprinted editorial in American journalism. It also is a myth-distorted artifact, as suggested by errant media descriptions […]

Recent Posts: Media Myth Alert

The impressive and enduring appeal of journalism’s most famous jailbreak narrative

As I wrote in “The Year That Defined American Journalism,” the Cisneros jailbreak was “the successful result of an intricate plot in which Cuba-based operatives and U.S. diplomatic personnel filled vital roles” — roles that had remained obscure for more than 100 years.

Watergate myth, extravagant version: Nixon was ‘dethroned entirely’ by press

The mythical notion that dogged journalism brought down Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal is unshakeable in its appeal and irresistible in its application. Seldom has the myth been presented as colorfully or extravagantly as it was in a recent Esquire UK essay pegged to the 45th anniversary of the release of All the President’s […]

Recent Posts: The 1995 Blog

Looking back 25 years: Alta Vista and ‘high-speed’ search for the early Web

It was the go-to search engine of the early Web, and it was launched on this date in 1995. The pioneer was Alta Vista, and its technology of using spiders to crawl and index the Web was an element of the gee-whiz marveling that sometimes greeted the unfolding digital landscape 25 years ago. Wired magazine […]

Quote of the 1990s? ‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,’ 25 years on

Twenty-five years ago today, in his closing argument at the sensational O.J. Simpson double-murder trial in Los Angeles, lead defense lawyer Johnnie L. Cochran stood before the jurors and urged them to keep this in mind: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Cochran was referring to the prosecution’s case against Simpson and, in particular, […]

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