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Nearly one million weekly listeners trust NPR's Brooke Gladstone to guide them through the distortions and complexities of the modern media. This brilliant radio personality now bursts onto the page as an illustrated character in vivid comics drawn by acclaimed artist Josh Neufeld. The cartoon of Brooke conducts the reader through two millennia of history-from the newspape Nearly one million weekly listeners trust NPR's Brooke Gladstone to guide them through the distortions and complexities of the modern media. This brilliant radio personality now bursts onto the page as an illustrated character in vivid comics drawn by acclaimed artist Josh Neufeld. The cartoon of Brooke conducts the reader through two millennia of history-from the newspapers in Caesar's Rome to the penny press of the American Revolution and the manipulations of contemporary journalism. Gladstone's manifesto debunks the notion that "The Media" is an external force, outside of our control, since we've begun directly constructing, filtering, and responding to what we watch and read. With fascinating digressions, sobering anecdotes, and brave analytical wit, The Influencing Machine equips us to be smart, savvy, informed consumers and shapers of the media. It shows that we have met the media and it is us. So now what?


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Nearly one million weekly listeners trust NPR's Brooke Gladstone to guide them through the distortions and complexities of the modern media. This brilliant radio personality now bursts onto the page as an illustrated character in vivid comics drawn by acclaimed artist Josh Neufeld. The cartoon of Brooke conducts the reader through two millennia of history-from the newspape Nearly one million weekly listeners trust NPR's Brooke Gladstone to guide them through the distortions and complexities of the modern media. This brilliant radio personality now bursts onto the page as an illustrated character in vivid comics drawn by acclaimed artist Josh Neufeld. The cartoon of Brooke conducts the reader through two millennia of history-from the newspapers in Caesar's Rome to the penny press of the American Revolution and the manipulations of contemporary journalism. Gladstone's manifesto debunks the notion that "The Media" is an external force, outside of our control, since we've begun directly constructing, filtering, and responding to what we watch and read. With fascinating digressions, sobering anecdotes, and brave analytical wit, The Influencing Machine equips us to be smart, savvy, informed consumers and shapers of the media. It shows that we have met the media and it is us. So now what?

30 review for The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone On The Media

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Everything I've been reading lately is a reaction to November's presidential election — I'm either trying to understand what happened, or I'm trying to escape from reality. This book falls under trying to understand. I am deeply disturbed by the role that fake news played in America's election, and I was glad I found Brooke Gladstone's book at the library. The Influencing Machine is a history of the media and how its impact has evolved over time. Published in 2011, the book is highly relevant and Everything I've been reading lately is a reaction to November's presidential election — I'm either trying to understand what happened, or I'm trying to escape from reality. This book falls under trying to understand. I am deeply disturbed by the role that fake news played in America's election, and I was glad I found Brooke Gladstone's book at the library. The Influencing Machine is a history of the media and how its impact has evolved over time. Published in 2011, the book is highly relevant and insightful about our current news landscape. Check out this prescient passage: I've been reporting on the media for some 25 years, apparently none of them good years. The concentration of media ownership, the blurring of news and opinion, the yawning news hole created by 24-hour news cycles ... scarifying local coverage ... shriveled foreign coverage ... liberal bias ... conservative bias ... celebrities ... scandal ... echo chambers ... arrogance ... elitism ... bloggers with no standards ... I see our most hallowed journalistic institutions crumbling, I see the business model that relied on mass audiences being displaced, with stunning speed, by one that survives by aggregating millions of tiny, targeted audience fragments. The reality that anyone with a cell phone can now presume to make, break or fabricate the news has shaken our citadels of culture and journalism to the core. The once mighty gatekeepers watch in horror as libelous, manifestly unprofessional websites flood the media ether with unadulterated id. OMG, right? No wonder I'm freaking out. However, like most things related to the election, I get horrified and then try to calm down by looking at the grand sweep of history (which is hopefully bending toward justice, despite recent setbacks). Gladstone helps by reminding the reader that our media has previously been mired in the muck: We've been here before: the incivility, the inanities, the obsessions, and the broken business models. In fact, it's been far worse and the Republic survives. The irony is that the more people participate in the media, the more they hate the media. The greater the participation, the greater the paranoia that the media are in control. But I've watched journalists cover countless catastrophes, elections, political gridlock, moral panics, and several wars. I've seen how public opinion coalesces around the issues dominating the news, and I can tell you that no one is in control. There is no conspiracy. Even though the media are mostly corporate-owned, their first allegiance is to their public because, if they lose that allegiance, they lose money. Sometimes the press leads the public; sometimes the public leads the press. The media, at least the mainstream media, don't want to get too far ahead. They just don't want to be left behind. There is a lot of good information in this book, which is told in the form of a comic, with illustrations by Josh Neufeld (I really liked his book about Hurricane Katrina, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge). The comic format made this an enjoyable read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to read more about the history and influence of the media. More Favorite Quotes "The media machine is a delusion. What we're really dealing with is a mirror: an exalting, degrading, tedious, and transcendent funhouse mirror of America. Actually, media is a plural noun: we're dealing with a whole mess of mirrors. They aren't well calibrated; they're fogged, and cracked. But you're in there, reflected somewhere, and so is everyone else (including people you dislike)." "American governments will always lash out at discordant speech when they feel threatened, either by an external enemy or by an enemy within — and no one who can write or speak is immune from its sting. The press is merely the loudest canary in the coal mine. Of course, governments reasonably argue that when the nation faces a mortal threat, certain rights must be suspended, and in such times many citizens agree. But civil libertarians argue back that the nation is equally threatened by the suspension of rights that define us ... The Constitution makes no distinction between the speech of a fractious, self-interested, fitfully heroic people and its fractious, self-interested, fitfully heroic press. That's because there never really was a distinction, and now that everyone carries a potential printing press in a back pocket or purse, there's no use pretending that there is." [On the history of speech suppression in America] "Two steps forward usually follow each step backward. We learn from our mistakes. Then we forget and learn again." "Journalism does tend to attract a certain kind of person. Cynics. Pests. Obnoxious inquisitors. Terriers nipping at the ankles of their betters. [Helen Thomas says] We never tried to win a popularity contest. We know we're not loved. Even liked. That doesn't matter. The whole attitude toward us has been so cyclical. After President Nixon started his anti-media campaign, people would come up and, well, spit on you, literally. They said, 'Why don't you tell the truth?' After Watergate, people came up to the press and said, 'You saved the country.'" "To well and truly report a war — amidst official lies, commercial pressures, horror, trauma, principles, and patriotism — is to be at war with oneself. Objectivity is essential. Objectivity is impossible." "Journalist Robert Wright believes that technology, especially information technology, paved the way from barbarism to global civilization — but 'technology is no guarantor of moral progress or civility.'"

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Payne

    Disappointing. This book is not "visionary," nor is it particularly "opinionated"as it has been billed; it is certainly not a "manifesto" as that implies the book is articulating some idea outside of normal liberal-establishment orthodoxy. And man, you need some outsized blinders on to consider that orthodoxy coherent. Gladstone starts the book by saying there is nothing "conspiratorial" about mainstream media - a remark I can only imagine is an unnamed naming of Manufacturing Consent, which, wh Disappointing. This book is not "visionary," nor is it particularly "opinionated"as it has been billed; it is certainly not a "manifesto" as that implies the book is articulating some idea outside of normal liberal-establishment orthodoxy. And man, you need some outsized blinders on to consider that orthodoxy coherent. Gladstone starts the book by saying there is nothing "conspiratorial" about mainstream media - a remark I can only imagine is an unnamed naming of Manufacturing Consent, which, whatever, but she doesn't even get into such standard Communications Theory hallmarks like Agenda-Setting as that would complicate her premise. Her premise, by the way, is that "we" get the media "we deserve." No, "we" don't. "We" get the media that accumulated capital has decided we get. We get the media that our country's dominant ideology allows. And the fact that we're allowed to respond online doesn't change the inherent structure of it. Her metaphor of the media as a mirror to our society is so off-base, even if it's a fun-house mirror, that I have a hard time considering it intellectually honest. The other main problem with this book is that it's completely unclear what age-range it is directed toward. I've come to the conclusion that it's meant for a precocious 9th-grader. I don't know if this is a product of an unconscious-bias regarding comics that Gladstone has - that she had to write down to the medium, something you see often when people outside comics write them - or if she was courting the high-school demographic, which would be admirable if it was clear that she was doing that. I like On The Media by the way, and comics even more. This combination is the worst of both worlds. As in, the illustrator seems more intent on drawing Gladstone's cleavage than in developing an intriguing illustrative style - that kind of comics. That this book comes with such amazing blurbs by such eminent personalities speaks more about the media than the book itself does.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    This is a book about Rhetoric, which gets such short shrift these days that I don't have a shelf for it. It was an assigned text for Veronica, and I see something catching lying around, I have to snake it from other family members, otherwise they wouldn't know where to look for it. If you're unfamiliar with rhetoric, this makes a fabulous introduction, and if you already know about it, you'll enjoy how everything is tied to modern media. The graphic novel format makes it feel lighter than it wou This is a book about Rhetoric, which gets such short shrift these days that I don't have a shelf for it. It was an assigned text for Veronica, and I see something catching lying around, I have to snake it from other family members, otherwise they wouldn't know where to look for it. If you're unfamiliar with rhetoric, this makes a fabulous introduction, and if you already know about it, you'll enjoy how everything is tied to modern media. The graphic novel format makes it feel lighter than it would otherwise, a delightful way to slip in education. Gladstone knows whereof she writes: she's been covering media for NPR for quite a few years. Excellent. Copy borrowed from high school text collection

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stven

    A lively and informative book on the history of public media. I have a few quibbles along the way, but I'm willing to ignore them because I'm learning some interesting history, competently arranged to get me from points A and B to points U and V with the dots nicely connected. The trouble is that I totally reject the conclusion Gladstone presents, that "We get the media we deserve." That's bogus. We the people don't control journalism -- despite the nice point she makes that journalism does spend A lively and informative book on the history of public media. I have a few quibbles along the way, but I'm willing to ignore them because I'm learning some interesting history, competently arranged to get me from points A and B to points U and V with the dots nicely connected. The trouble is that I totally reject the conclusion Gladstone presents, that "We get the media we deserve." That's bogus. We the people don't control journalism -- despite the nice point she makes that journalism does spend a fair amount of effort trying to be what people will like. The power of the press is still controlled by the person who owns the press, and that person is not the average human on the street or the farm or the iPhone. I'm not responsible for the greed-driven politics of Rupert Murdoch. I didn't ask for him and I don't deserve him. The stupefying evil of Fox News is no more the fault of their audience than a car crash is the fault of the driver who is rear-ended. Do we get the car crashes we deserve? Do we get the hurricanes we deserve? Did we get the war in Iraq we deserved? I could go on, but I risk talking myself into dropping this book's rating yet another star.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Engaging and entertaining, but I disagree with the central claim of the book that "We get the media we deserve." Who are "we" and what does it mean for us to "deserve" our media? What is missing is any kind of sustained examination of the specifically economic (as opposed to technological) frameworks within which the media operate and the way those frameworks affect their performance. Engaging and entertaining, but I disagree with the central claim of the book that "We get the media we deserve." Who are "we" and what does it mean for us to "deserve" our media? What is missing is any kind of sustained examination of the specifically economic (as opposed to technological) frameworks within which the media operate and the way those frameworks affect their performance.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dan Phillips

    I had high hopes for this "media manifesto in comic book form," as it seemed to be very similar in style (both graphically and narratively) to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. McCloud's book maximized the potential of "sequential art" to explain complex issues in an immediate, simple way. And there are some very clever visual choices in The Influencing Machine that manage the same trick. But ultimately, I ended up feeling the same way about this book as I do about Brooke Gladstone's better-k I had high hopes for this "media manifesto in comic book form," as it seemed to be very similar in style (both graphically and narratively) to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. McCloud's book maximized the potential of "sequential art" to explain complex issues in an immediate, simple way. And there are some very clever visual choices in The Influencing Machine that manage the same trick. But ultimately, I ended up feeling the same way about this book as I do about Brooke Gladstone's better-known enterprise, the On the Media radio program. It's fascinating stuff, but more questions are raised than answered, and so it just feels like a big, wide-eyed jumble. The tone reminds me of the most maddening professors I had in college; Gladstone's so jazzed by the multiplicity of meanings and interpretations that it's kind of charming, and often infectious. But after a while I just want her to pick a side already, to make an assertion without contradicting it two panels later... Having said all that, I definitely learned some history I never knew. And I'm tempted to read the thing again, just because the comic book format allowed me to breeze through it almost too easily for something whose subject matter is actually pretty weighty.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    A lot of reviewers found this book frustrating and disappointing, and I can certainly see why. The jaunty comic book style drawings and the irreverent tone make it look like it's going to be an all out Michael Moore style attack on the status quo and the mainstream media, but the more you read the less you can figure out where the author really stands on anything. While giving the history of journalism and censorship in an entertaining way, ideologically Brooke Gladstone is inconsistent, erratic A lot of reviewers found this book frustrating and disappointing, and I can certainly see why. The jaunty comic book style drawings and the irreverent tone make it look like it's going to be an all out Michael Moore style attack on the status quo and the mainstream media, but the more you read the less you can figure out where the author really stands on anything. While giving the history of journalism and censorship in an entertaining way, ideologically Brooke Gladstone is inconsistent, erratic, and incoherent. In other words, she's all over the map. One minute she's ridiculing journalists who don't openly declare what side they're on, sneering that they've made "The Great Refusal." The next minute she's sneering at journalists who support their government and the ideals of the society that produced them. There's no logic in dismissing the idea that anyone can be impartial and then attacking journalists who aren't impartial. Nevertheless this book is worth glancing through because there's a lot of fascinating information about American history. I knew about John Adams and the Sedition Act, for example, but I had no idea that the modern "press pass" and the "press release" were both invented by Edward Stanton, the Secretary of War under Abraham Lincoln!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    I’m a big fan of Brooke Gladstone’s radio show, so when she mentioned this book on the air, I immediately ordered it from my library. I was surprised that it turned out to be in comic book/graphic form, but that turned out to be an added boon. The pictures allow for more snark, which gave a whimsical tone to an otherwise heavy topic. Brooke’s specialty is media analysis, and she did a thorough job of it here, covering such topics as the use of Alien and Sedition Acts throughout American history I’m a big fan of Brooke Gladstone’s radio show, so when she mentioned this book on the air, I immediately ordered it from my library. I was surprised that it turned out to be in comic book/graphic form, but that turned out to be an added boon. The pictures allow for more snark, which gave a whimsical tone to an otherwise heavy topic. Brooke’s specialty is media analysis, and she did a thorough job of it here, covering such topics as the use of Alien and Sedition Acts throughout American history and the evolution of television war coverage between Vietnam and Iraq. She also quotes from many thinkers. Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman were no surprise, but imagine my pleasure at seeing George Eliot, not just quoted but depicted in cartoon! Though written in 2011, the book perfectly describes some of the factors that gave rise to the Trump presidency: fake news, news as entertainment, and Internet-enabled echo chambers. It did not specifically foresee the problem of social media manipulation by Russian bots or Cambridge Analytica, but the analysis shows that media reporter that she is, Brooke Gladstone she has had her ear to the ground all along. Because of this, perhaps I can let myself believe her optimistic conclusion. She argues that media in general, and the Internet specifically, contains the cure for the disease it is causing. After all, aren’t we all here on Goodreads discussing books? So perhaps people aren’t always so stupid and gullible after all. We just have to remember where our weaknesses lie and deliberately counteract them. It’s work, but it’s worth it. As Brooke reminds us, in the words of Thomas Jefferson: “the price of democracy is eternal vigilance.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    This book offers a robust opinion on the state of the media and explains why there is still a lot of work to do but no reason to despair. A lot of insight is gleaned from the history of journalism but also from technology experts like Clay Shirky or Cass Sunstein. The author is also the co-host of On The Media. Here are my lecture notes. # The Influencing Machine The influencing machine is a typical invention of the mind that is trying to explain in a somewhat paranoiac way how ideas are spreading This book offers a robust opinion on the state of the media and explains why there is still a lot of work to do but no reason to despair. A lot of insight is gleaned from the history of journalism but also from technology experts like Clay Shirky or Cass Sunstein. The author is also the co-host of On The Media. Here are my lecture notes. # The Influencing Machine The influencing machine is a typical invention of the mind that is trying to explain in a somewhat paranoiac way how ideas are spreading. Critics of the media will often sound paranoiac as they compare the media to an influencing machine. But this machine is a delusion: "what we're really dealing with is a mirror: an exalting, degrading, tedious, and transcendent funhouse mirror of America." (loc.47) So we long for objectivity, even if that objectivity might be an elusive goal. In fact, it's always been an elusive goal. The earliest journalists, the scribes, worked for their masters and so had to toe the line. And early history of journalism is rife with biased coverage. And legal restrictions on the press like the Alien and Sedition Acts made things worse. Political leaks have also been around for hundreds of years. In fact, "everything we hate about the media today was present at its creation: its corrupt or craven practitioners, its easy manipulation by the powerful, its capacity for propagating lies, its penchant for amplifying rage." (loc.64) So again, we long for objectivity but it is an elusive goal. W.B Yeates said "there is nothing in them (journalists!) but tittering, jeering emptiness. They have all made what Dante calls 'The Great Refusal'." (loc.98) Which is to say, journalists are sissies who refuse to commit to anything. # Media biases The author then gives up on objectivity and goes on to list biases that we actually should worry about: - Commercial Bias: news needs to sell - Bad news bias: threatening news is more interesting - Status quo bias: things are working as they are—radical viewpoints are ignored - Access bias: reporters need access to report on something—reporters are forced to enter a give and take relationship with the ones they cover - Visual bias: newspapers favor topics that photograph well - Narrative bias: stories are written to have a beginning/middle/end - Fairness bias: giving both sides equal coverage when one does not deserve it The author continues on a historical panorama and explains that every new technology was decried as harmful but that in the end humanity survived. About information overload, she paraphrases Clay Shirky: "the reason we don't experience information overload in a bookstore or a library is that we're used to the cataloging system. So, the real question is, how do we design filters for the Web that let us find our way through this particular abundance of information?" The author states that humanity will not be tomorrow what it is today. People make things and the things people make influence the people that made them. We should then embrace better access to information that technology brought us and learn to handle the glut better. # What we can do Three things we should all do to improve the media: Trust reporters who demonstrate fairness and reliability Spend some time reading primary sources once in a while Attract attention to under-reported news In the end, we get the media we deserve.

  10. 5 out of 5

    C. Scott

    An enjoyable trip through some of the primary criticisms against the modern media. I especially appreciated the descriptions about the various biases that creep into reporting, including narrative bias, bad news bias, access bias, and status quo bias. These make an illuminating retort against default assumptions about liberal bias guiding reportage. Brooke Gladstone delivers a lot of material in a really engaging way. The frequent detours into modern American history to provide context were also An enjoyable trip through some of the primary criticisms against the modern media. I especially appreciated the descriptions about the various biases that creep into reporting, including narrative bias, bad news bias, access bias, and status quo bias. These make an illuminating retort against default assumptions about liberal bias guiding reportage. Brooke Gladstone delivers a lot of material in a really engaging way. The frequent detours into modern American history to provide context were also great. I learned a lot!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joella

    This was book 8 for the YALSA Best Books challenge. And yet again it has taken me awhile to write what I thought about it. I think this book has so much information and so many ideas, it just takes time to thoroughly think through everything and digest it all. So this is a book about media and how it influences (thus the name of the book) the world. It starts from the very basic history about how people learned "news" clear back in the day when ancient civilizations "wrote" things down. Then it This was book 8 for the YALSA Best Books challenge. And yet again it has taken me awhile to write what I thought about it. I think this book has so much information and so many ideas, it just takes time to thoroughly think through everything and digest it all. So this is a book about media and how it influences (thus the name of the book) the world. It starts from the very basic history about how people learned "news" clear back in the day when ancient civilizations "wrote" things down. Then it goes through various bits of history up until now with information, facts, quotes, and whatnot that shaped or impacted the media that we have now. And since it is a graphic novel, it goes without saying that there are a lot of pictures to assist in conveying the ideas. I liked it. I enjoyed it being a non-fiction graphic novel. I liked seeing all the ways that information and rights were connected. The illustrations were great. I especially loved seeing the Brooke Gladstone character in all the historical scenes. It made me smile. The thing about this book is that there was so much to digest, I think I will have to read it again in order to wrap my head around it all. If anyone needs proof that graphic novels aren't for sissy readers, they should be introduced to this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne Powderly

    Gladstone is both narrator and visual tour guide, popping up throughout Neufeld's comic panels as both her contemporary self and camouflaged alongside historical figures. The comic book format permitted me to read and learn about a subject I would not have attempted in a formal book format; the graphic format makes sense as a way to ease the "pain". Beginning with the Incas, Herodotus, and the Acta Diurna of the Roman Senate, she wends her way to the present. The history’s always interesting, an Gladstone is both narrator and visual tour guide, popping up throughout Neufeld's comic panels as both her contemporary self and camouflaged alongside historical figures. The comic book format permitted me to read and learn about a subject I would not have attempted in a formal book format; the graphic format makes sense as a way to ease the "pain". Beginning with the Incas, Herodotus, and the Acta Diurna of the Roman Senate, she wends her way to the present. The history’s always interesting, and her discussion on objectivity, and what psychological research has revealed about how people receive news and opinion is amazing. One of the most intriguing sections deals with bias: commercial, bad news, status quo, access, visual, narrative, and fairness. This leads nicely into a discussion of war journalism. Throughout I was scandalized by the tidbits of information about falsehoods, lies, and tampering that goes on in the media. This is definitely an interesting and easy way to read about a complex, interesting subject that has an effect on us all.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Swarun

    Brooke Gladstone takes on an incredibly ambitious venture - to trace media and journalism from its origins to today's hypercharged soup. And also explain media's evolution through the ages leading up to today. All of this in 200 pages. OF A GRAPHIC NOVEL. Let's get the art out of the way - it's a masterstroke decision to make this book a graphic novel. Josh Neufeld has managed to translate Brooke's vision perfectly in the form of beautiful illustrations sprinkled with generous doses of humour. D Brooke Gladstone takes on an incredibly ambitious venture - to trace media and journalism from its origins to today's hypercharged soup. And also explain media's evolution through the ages leading up to today. All of this in 200 pages. OF A GRAPHIC NOVEL. Let's get the art out of the way - it's a masterstroke decision to make this book a graphic novel. Josh Neufeld has managed to translate Brooke's vision perfectly in the form of beautiful illustrations sprinkled with generous doses of humour. Despite being a graphic novel, the book goes deeper than surface-level on many occasions. 'What is good _news_?' was a question that I wanted answers to. And this book is Step 1/∞ towards that answer. Brooke definitely gets you thinking about some key questions around objective journalism, the shift towards transparency as a means towards balanced reporting, sampling bias, conflict-based news, news depicting extremities and a few other journalistic biases. In my simple understanding, Brooke also tries to tie together media through the ages - in a way that suggests that concerns over media are very similar since ever. And that media is a pretty good reflection of how the current ages are. On first look, it's a must-read thanks to its high amount of new ideas and friendly format. My interrupted reading of this book left me with holes in my understanding - I shall be rereading this.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daron

    This engaging, thought-provoking book came out in 2011 but every page drips with relevant insights into the complexities of the current news climate. It provides important historical and cultural perspectives reminding us that so much of what we taking to be unprecedented in American history have been there from the very beginning – including angry accusations from presidents about fake news. The terms have changed, but the underlying tensions are the same. “Everything we hate about the media to This engaging, thought-provoking book came out in 2011 but every page drips with relevant insights into the complexities of the current news climate. It provides important historical and cultural perspectives reminding us that so much of what we taking to be unprecedented in American history have been there from the very beginning – including angry accusations from presidents about fake news. The terms have changed, but the underlying tensions are the same. “Everything we hate about the media today was present at its creation: its corrupt or craven practitioners, its easy manipulation by the powerful, its capacity for propagating lies, its penchant for amplifying rage. Also present was everything we admire — and require — from the media: factual information, penetrating analysis, probing investigation, truth spoken to power. Same as it ever was.” Brooke Gladstone teamed up with illustrator Josh Neufeld to create the graphic novel style survey course. It manages to blend the seriousness of the issue with a light touch and plenty of humor. Many important thinkers are represented here and there are pages of footnotes so readers can keep digging on their own. And readers who are new to the author's On the Media podcast will want to subscribe immediately. The theme of news-related anxiety and how to navigate it is finding it's way into more of my attentional fitness talks and coaching sessions. I've decided to add a Goodreads bookshelf to start curating titles related to this critically important and timely issue. Thanks, Brooke!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Gordon

    The Influencing Machine is a fascinating journey through US news history, contextualising many modern complaints about the media, and showing how these are problems that have plagued the media for decades. It's a call to action about how people engage with the news, with a positive look at the way that technology is shifting how we absorb and access information. My one main criticism is that Gladstone did not engage with criticisms about capitalism and the media, specifically control over the me The Influencing Machine is a fascinating journey through US news history, contextualising many modern complaints about the media, and showing how these are problems that have plagued the media for decades. It's a call to action about how people engage with the news, with a positive look at the way that technology is shifting how we absorb and access information. My one main criticism is that Gladstone did not engage with criticisms about capitalism and the media, specifically control over the media by a few, powerful companies. I know that many other sources deal with this problem, but Gladstone, rather than refer people elsewhere, was rather dismissive of the point. However, all in all, this is an informative, thought-provoking book for those interesting in some introductory media criticism.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brandy

    A thorough examination of the role of media--newspapers, television, pop culture--in our world and our understanding of the world. There are passages on cognitive bias and perception that I want to scan in for my middle-school media literacy classes. The book is aimed squarely at adults--I'll probably need to be careful which passages I share, for both context and content--but it's accessibly written so you don't need to be a PhD in order to understand it. It's not entirely layman's terms, but i A thorough examination of the role of media--newspapers, television, pop culture--in our world and our understanding of the world. There are passages on cognitive bias and perception that I want to scan in for my middle-school media literacy classes. The book is aimed squarely at adults--I'll probably need to be careful which passages I share, for both context and content--but it's accessibly written so you don't need to be a PhD in order to understand it. It's not entirely layman's terms, but it's not loaded with academic jargon and journalistic minutiae. Worth a read for a fuller, more nuanced look at how journalism shapes perception.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    The first “graphic text” (grown-up comic book) I’ve ever read. Very clever and thoughtful; unafraid of complexity; prepared to look at history and its many contradictions to try to extract meaning. Full of pithy quotes from many observers and commentators. Perhaps the funniest is this, from GK Chesterton: ‘Journalism largely consists of saying “Lord Jones is dead” to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive.’

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sabina

    I loved this. It's graphic nonfiction, which is unusual to say the least but very effective in this case. Brooke Gladstone weaves together history with modern issues in journalism to comment on our heavily mediated society. She covers bias, court cases, technology, multiculturalism, war, and so much more with the aid of Josh Neufeld's incredible illustrations. Really an incredible book that I highly recommend. *PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge #40: Your favorite prompt from a previous Popsugar re I loved this. It's graphic nonfiction, which is unusual to say the least but very effective in this case. Brooke Gladstone weaves together history with modern issues in journalism to comment on our heavily mediated society. She covers bias, court cases, technology, multiculturalism, war, and so much more with the aid of Josh Neufeld's incredible illustrations. Really an incredible book that I highly recommend. *PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge #40: Your favorite prompt from a previous Popsugar reading challenge (in this case "a graphic novel" from 2015)*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Newspapers (now broadened to "the media") influence public opinion and the course of political affairs. This deft little book tells the story of media and influence, historically and technologically, and manages to be not just readable but also extremely difficult to put down. I read it in one sitting and got a lot from it. It is easy to read because it is both well-written and well-illustrated--most of the book is in the form of a comic: panels, pictures, captions. The potentially dry topics ar Newspapers (now broadened to "the media") influence public opinion and the course of political affairs. This deft little book tells the story of media and influence, historically and technologically, and manages to be not just readable but also extremely difficult to put down. I read it in one sitting and got a lot from it. It is easy to read because it is both well-written and well-illustrated--most of the book is in the form of a comic: panels, pictures, captions. The potentially dry topics are made interesting because the words and the illustrations go hand-in-hand. The book explores the relationship between politicians, public, media, and technology. English parliamentarians who legally constrain presses; American free presses; the rapid introduction (and reintroduction and reintroduction) of censorship bills by Presidents; contempt for journalists; the trends and herd mentality of reporters; news that just isn't true; the different types of bias that could manifest in journalism; can journalists have opinions and still be fair or objective; what the hell IS objectivity; how political war machines use journalists; how journalists are complicit in those machines; transparency as a substitute for objectivity; cognitive biases; the ineffectiveness of facts to change opinions; and more. It's thoughtful difficult stuff, but always seems natural and interesting because every point is illustrated (literally and metaphorically) with eye-watering examples from history. (And she uses the word "feculent", which I love) Some bits I particularly liked:By the 17th century, many urban Europeans can rely on weekly or even some daily papers for news of the world. But not the news of the country in which they're printed. That's because printers operate at the pleasure of the authorities, and the authorities do not find local coverage pleasurable. First, England bans newspapers for six years. Parliament rules that every printed word must be approved--licensed--before publication. In 1644, John Milton complains. "We must not think to make a commodity of all the knowledge in the Land, to mark and license it like our broad cloth, and our wool packs. Believe it, Lords and Commons, they who counsel ye to such a suppressing, do as good as bid ye suppress yourselves." Eventually the courts revoke prior restraint, but printers can still be ruined by the charge of "seditious libel" for publishing criticism of the government. And truth is no defense. Legal doctrine holds that "the greater the truth the greater the libel"--the greater the threat to Divine Right. [Thomas Jefferson] writes this in 1799: "Our citizens may be deceived for a while, and have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light." He writes this in 1807: "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle." What happened to Tom? In 1801, Tom becomes President. The press hates presidents. "Journalists are like dogs--whenever anything moves they begin to bark." -- Arthur Schopenhauer The story of the atomic bomb was deeply disturbing and provocative. Of course, the US government worked hard to hush up news of the damage done by the bomb. Journalists were kept out of the area and censored. The newspapers were fed a rabidly pro-atomic line by a pet journo stooge. But, eventually, when the news of the massive human damage (civilian centers were bombed, not military bases) the public were finally horrified. That horror is what the government sought to avoid, yet it's precisely that horror which ensured public opinion went against dropping more of them and which, it seems plausible to me, helped to prevent further such horrors. This is the power of news at its best: a moral force, a preventative to unchecked power. The best part of the book for me, though, was Daniel Hallin's donut:Historian Daniel Hallin divides the journalists' world into three spheres. The donut hole is the sphere of consensus, "the region of motherhood and apple pie". Unquestionable values and unchallengeable truths. The donut is journalism's sweet spot: the sphere of legitimate controversy. Here issues are undecided, debated, probed. The sphere of deviance is the air around the donut. Limbo. The place for people and opinions that the "mainstream of the society reject as unworthy of being heard." In fact, says Hallin, the press plays gatekeeper, by defining and defending "the limits of acceptable political conduct." I'm already seeing the world and the articles I read online in a different light. I couldn't ask any more from this magnificent book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Miles

    This is a terrific primer on media history and one reporter’s take on how average citizens can promote a free, open news environment. Aided by Josh Neufeld’s clever illustrations, Brooke Gladstone takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through media history’s most tenuous moments, setting her sights on the perennial conflict between authoritarian power, which has traditionally sought to suppress non-propagandist news, and the heroic but flawed individuals and organizations who have fought the l This is a terrific primer on media history and one reporter’s take on how average citizens can promote a free, open news environment. Aided by Josh Neufeld’s clever illustrations, Brooke Gladstone takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through media history’s most tenuous moments, setting her sights on the perennial conflict between authoritarian power, which has traditionally sought to suppress non-propagandist news, and the heroic but flawed individuals and organizations who have fought the long struggle for a free and protected press. Though she doesn’t delve deeply into any single topic, Gladstone offers an eclectic set of perspectives that sift the right questions from a broad range of sources rather than perpetuating the illusion that any single source has the right answers. Its comic book aesthetic and simple language make this text accessible to all kinds of readers; it’s a great potential resource for junior high and high school history and language arts teachers. Gladstone provides a handy list of media biases and an overview of psychological biases as understood by contemporary social scientists and neuroscientists. She doesn’t shy away from the reality that figuring out who to trust is no cakewalk, especially when the biggest potential deceiver is your own brain. At the heart of Gladstone’s message is her desire to switch out one cultural metaphor for another. She claims that most people think of the news media as an “influencing machine” that alters (and to some extent controls) the minds of consumers. This machine is variously portrayed as a means of population control for shadowy cabals with aspirations of world domination, corrupt governments, or super-wealthy elitists eager to propagate their personal worldviews. Gladstone rejects this metaphor, arguing instead that the media is better understood as a mirror, one that reflects and amplifies the virtues and flaws of its consumers. She makes the case that media distributors, even ones that seem indestructible, are ultimately subject to the preferences of their audience: us. Citizens should take up the responsibility of learning about and interacting with valuable media sources and reject those that pander to the lowest common denominator. I generally agree with Gladstone’s views and think the mirror metaphor is a useful way of talking about the media’s role in a free society. However, I think the media can be understood as both an influencing machine and a mirror, depending on context. I certainly don’t think the mirror metaphor applies to autocratic regimes where the government has complete control over the news cycle (e.g. North Korea). And closer to home, it’s hard to argue that the personal preferences of powerful media executives don’t exert a disproportionate influence on public policy. We can’t ignore the potential for private media companies to become so large and influential that they can buy government influence and/or begin breaking down the barrier between service providers and content producers. If your cable/internet provider is also your primary content producer (or can favor certain content providers over others), and there is not viable competition from other providers (as is currently the case in most of the US), it becomes increasingly difficult for users to make the bottom-up consumption choices for which Gladstone advocates. This is the crux of the ongoing net neutrality debate, and it’s unclear if Gladstone’s call for informed media consumption would have the same harnessing effect on media companies operating in a post-net neutrality world. Another source of anxiety is the question of how media freedom changes in the face of the US government’s recent hostility toward whistle-blowers. There are future scenarios in which the influencing machine shatters the societal mirror. Overall, Gladstone and Neufeld aptly highlight our simplest and most useful modes of media analysis. The Influencing Machine has no pretensions of being more than it is. What it lacks in depth it makes up in accessibility and historical scope. Its message––that the power to enact progress resides less in the machinations of institutions and social networks than in everyday choices made by common people––is timely and true. True enough, anyway. This review was originally published on my blog, words&dirt.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Inspired by Scott McCloud, Brooke Gladstone was brimming with ideas about the history of journalism and the impact, evolution, and continuing relevance of the media. So she called up Josh Neufeld out of the blue (with help from her agents) and asked him to help her unburden herself. What resulted was this excellent manifesto. I just picked this off the library shelves out of curiosity and then we got this week's Muse magazine, which coincidentally includes an excerpt from the book. So then I had Inspired by Scott McCloud, Brooke Gladstone was brimming with ideas about the history of journalism and the impact, evolution, and continuing relevance of the media. So she called up Josh Neufeld out of the blue (with help from her agents) and asked him to help her unburden herself. What resulted was this excellent manifesto. I just picked this off the library shelves out of curiosity and then we got this week's Muse magazine, which coincidentally includes an excerpt from the book. So then I had to go grab it back from my 4th grader, despite the fact that all Gladstone's references to bias, gatekeepers, and cognitive dissonance would seem to find a better landing place among college graduates. I'm happy for him to read it if he likes, but this one is Samuel Clemens, not Mark Twain. Gladstone covers virtually every aspect of free speech you can think of, save, I dunno, maybe three. She doesn’t get into law, theory, or the arts. Rather, she’s driven to answer what she perceives as the public’s eternal love-fear relationship with the published and broadcast word. That polarity infects every page of this book, Gladstone swings between good news and bad news, tracking studies, claims, counterclaims, threats, movements, achievements and diminishments, highlights and lowlights, and finally peering into the wired-in future. I'd offer a preview, but it's just too dense for that, just watch this promo video. Her message is fair: as media consumers we should trust, but verify what we read and hear. Cassandras have been around forever citing the various evils of an unfettered press, but in the main, the boons outweigh the bogeymen. “Our” press will always remain courageous, honest, and true; while “theirs” will ever be incompetent, libelous, seditious drivel. The trick to unpacking reality from our Rashomon comfort bubble lies in remaining open (just enough) to multiple sources, especially primary sources. In surveying and distilling her sources (which are extensive and range in writings from Plato to Kurzweil, with stops at John Milton; Thomas’ Paine, Jefferson, and... ugh... Helen; including nods to Albert Camus; Marshall McLuhan; and Douglas Adams (“Don’t Panic!”); and with imagery spanning from Williams Hogarth and Hearst all the way to The Watchmen), Gladstone offers two good reasons to remain optimistic in today’s helter-skelter welter of information sensation and noise. We are all media consumers. We are all the media. People are social animals whose experience of the universe is essentially mediated, so provided we continue our collective journey on the planet, we must all remain tuned in to us. What a great book. You can read it in one night, but will find something new in it every night, as every page is jam-packed with goodies. The only downside I can think of is that annoying Booby McFerrin ditty that’s stuck in my head. Now every time I pass the little metal kiosks by the metro, I’ll be hearing a little voice that endlessly repeats, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    "The more people participate in the media, the more they hate the media. The greater the participation, the greater the paranoia that the media are in control." Fascinating read from Brooke Gladstone, the radio journalist, and Josh Neufeld, the illustrator (who worked with me briefly back in the 1990s! cool guy!). Not only do they discuss bias, war, and technology, they also get into the idea of what makes us truly human and where technology can lead us. Of course, there's only so much they can g "The more people participate in the media, the more they hate the media. The greater the participation, the greater the paranoia that the media are in control." Fascinating read from Brooke Gladstone, the radio journalist, and Josh Neufeld, the illustrator (who worked with me briefly back in the 1990s! cool guy!). Not only do they discuss bias, war, and technology, they also get into the idea of what makes us truly human and where technology can lead us. Of course, there's only so much they can get into in a 160-page comic book, but there's extensive sourcing if you want to learn more. Other interesting nuggets: "Mostly, reporters are celebrated or condemned not because of the importance or truth of their story, but according to whether their story suits the public's mood." A "Goldilocks number" is one that's high enough to capture the public imagination but not so high as to be absurd. In most cases it isn't true. For example: * "More than 7,000 cases of leprosy have been reported in the United States in the past 30 years!" = true but not terribly interesting * More than 7,000 cases of leprosy have been reported in the United States in the past three years!" = untrue but attention-getting; can be linked to one president's immigration policies * More than 700,000 cases of leprosy have been reported in the United States in the past 30 years!" = untrue and so far off that the average person thinks, "That can't be right" "Stories have beginnings, middles, and ends. Some news stories, science stories for instance, never really end. They're all middle. It's a narrative nightmare." "In an era when everything is asserted and anything denied, we really need to know who we are and how our brains work." "Obviously, people make things, but less obviously, things also make people. The idea that humans and their tools 'co-evolved' is now widely accepted by anthropologists." (The theory is that people started walking upright when they figured out how to use clubs to hunt and as self-defense.) "I am generally a dark individual, but I think this is a great time to be alive. Our limits are purely human. Our enemies are not the digital bits that dance across our screens but the neural impulses that animate our lizard brains." (I disagree with her that our limits are purely human--one asteroid could wipe us out--but it's an intriguing idea.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ron Turner

    I love non-fiction graphic novels because they do a great job at explaining complicated ideas. In this case, how the media influences us. She makes a number of good points: Media consolidation has drastically reduced variety. A handful of corporations feed us the same heavily filtered spiel. It's been a race to the bottom as journalists have been replaced with entertainers reading teleprompters. We obsess over polls, even though they're NEVER right, and listen to "experts" who are really just bul I love non-fiction graphic novels because they do a great job at explaining complicated ideas. In this case, how the media influences us. She makes a number of good points: Media consolidation has drastically reduced variety. A handful of corporations feed us the same heavily filtered spiel. It's been a race to the bottom as journalists have been replaced with entertainers reading teleprompters. We obsess over polls, even though they're NEVER right, and listen to "experts" who are really just bullshit artists trying to sell themselves as "pundits" and "strategists." More and more folks are living in bubbles. We joke about Fox News but folks on the left fall for fake news just as much. Just look at the wild-eyed Russian conspiracy theories. Technology is changing things. Google, Facebook and Twitter now openly brag about censoring results and reading your private messages. Whistleblowers like Wikileaks and Edward Snowden have taken enormous fire for exposing just how widespread surveillance is. Datamining is normal now. Advances in VR and nanotechnology may lead to a world where our very eyes are connect to the internet and filter reality through parameters. The new ways we are processing information are literally changing our brains. Maybe we're getting smarter. Maybe we're getting dumber. But today's generation of kids are different from their grandparents and future generations may be more alien than we realize. Definitely a lot of things to think about.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Agile Kindergarten

    Gladstone used graphic non-fiction to deftly communicate the historical, psychological and sociological truths of the media's influence in society. From Caesar's Acta Diurna, the first daily news which pressured the Roman Senators to be accountable (and reminiscent of the Daily Stand-Up Meeting) to the digitally borne diseases stemming from the homophily echo chamber (where people only consume media "facts" that substantiate their entrenched belief systems resulting in polarization), our relatio Gladstone used graphic non-fiction to deftly communicate the historical, psychological and sociological truths of the media's influence in society. From Caesar's Acta Diurna, the first daily news which pressured the Roman Senators to be accountable (and reminiscent of the Daily Stand-Up Meeting) to the digitally borne diseases stemming from the homophily echo chamber (where people only consume media "facts" that substantiate their entrenched belief systems resulting in polarization), our relationship with information has been as much about our own emotions as about anything objective. This phenomena, as skillfully presented by Gladstone, is about more than media influence. Call it communication skill, knowledge management, data-driven decision making or salesmanship, the bottom line is the cure is in the continued search for clarity - the continued creation and critical consumption of information - be it in a business setting or in our living rooms. There are many great quotes in this book, but perhaps the most important one is from one of our founding fathers, "The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." --Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Appelcline

    This is one of a weird little medium of books that I quite like: non-fiction books illustrated as comic strips. Scott McCloud's trilogy of books about comics are perhaps the best example nowadays, and pretty close in style to The Influencing Machine, as Gladstone takes a similar fourth-wall-breaking style of talking. It's quite well done and I liked the art (two-toned artwork, colored blue and black by Josh Neufeld) enough that I immediately ordered a book from the library that the artist had do This is one of a weird little medium of books that I quite like: non-fiction books illustrated as comic strips. Scott McCloud's trilogy of books about comics are perhaps the best example nowadays, and pretty close in style to The Influencing Machine, as Gladstone takes a similar fourth-wall-breaking style of talking. It's quite well done and I liked the art (two-toned artwork, colored blue and black by Josh Neufeld) enough that I immediately ordered a book from the library that the artist had done on his own about New Orleans after the flood. The Influencing Machine takes an excellent look at the media and it makes me both angry and hopeful. It does this by pointing how messed up the media has been over the history of man. In other words, the weak-willed lapdogs that we saw in Washington during Bush's administration weren't an exception. So, on the one hand, suckage, but on the other hand, it doesn't mean the world is going to hell. Gladstone goes into lots of other details on biases, balance, and other stuff, and it was all thought-provoking. I should probably read it a second time to lock down some of the stuff she said (though not immediately). The book does spin off into speculation about the internet and future technology at the end, which I don't find in line with the rest of the book, but interesting nonetheless. Overall, a compelling and good read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    James

    I learned about this book from the same ALA "Best Graphic Nonfiction" list that yielded Harvey Pekar's forgettable Beat history. In this case, fortunately, the praise was warranted. The Influencing Machine (Gladstone's central metaphor for the media is to equate it with the mechanical mind-control engines that feature in the delusional fantasies of some famous 19th-century paranoids) is a smart and funny graphic history of journalism and a meditation on the roles and responsibilities of journali I learned about this book from the same ALA "Best Graphic Nonfiction" list that yielded Harvey Pekar's forgettable Beat history. In this case, fortunately, the praise was warranted. The Influencing Machine (Gladstone's central metaphor for the media is to equate it with the mechanical mind-control engines that feature in the delusional fantasies of some famous 19th-century paranoids) is a smart and funny graphic history of journalism and a meditation on the roles and responsibilities of journalists in a free society. The tension between the fairly highbrow content and the lowbrow medium in IM is reminiscent of those RSA Animates, in which some egghead natters on about an abstruse topic accompanied by quick-drawn irreverent animation. I can confidently say that this is the first comic book with end notes that I have ever read. Some fascinating factual tidbits, e.g. intentionally alarming statistics frequently reported in the media about the number of Internet predators, Satanic-cult-child-sacrificers, annual stranger abductions, or deaths from second-hand smoke always hover around the number 50,000, because it is a made-up 'Goldilocks number,' not too small to be interesting and not too big to be believable.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Graphic novel about media bias and information seeking behavior written by NPR correspondent - pretty much my ideal nonfiction book, but somehow I didn't enjoy this very much. Perhaps because Gladstone is new to the medium, I found the book suffered greatly from a lack of narrative and structural cohesion. Her apparent thesis in the introduction - that consumers and advertisers cause media bias - did not seem to be the guiding thesis of her discussion, which spanned history, psychology, and perso Graphic novel about media bias and information seeking behavior written by NPR correspondent - pretty much my ideal nonfiction book, but somehow I didn't enjoy this very much. Perhaps because Gladstone is new to the medium, I found the book suffered greatly from a lack of narrative and structural cohesion. Her apparent thesis in the introduction - that consumers and advertisers cause media bias - did not seem to be the guiding thesis of her discussion, which spanned history, psychology, and personal opinion. This really threw me off, and as she shared anecdotes and opinions I kept thinking, "Yes, but why are you telling me this?" Her tone was often one of refutation, but I couldn't figure out whose argument she was critiquing. A better frame narrative would have helped. So much of nonfiction writing is telling people what you are about to tell them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nichole

    Informational Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine is a graphic novel that is crammed with so much useful information while remaining a pleasure to read the entire time due to its format. If the book was written strictly in text, the reader might be bored, but due to the entertaining comics, it manages to hold the reader’s attention and educate at the same time. Gladstone’s purpose with The Influencing Machine is to explain why the media is the way is it and how it got that way. She teaches Informational Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine is a graphic novel that is crammed with so much useful information while remaining a pleasure to read the entire time due to its format. If the book was written strictly in text, the reader might be bored, but due to the entertaining comics, it manages to hold the reader’s attention and educate at the same time. Gladstone’s purpose with The Influencing Machine is to explain why the media is the way is it and how it got that way. She teaches the readers how to be more thoughtful and questioning participants in what they read, watch, and listen to instead of being passive followers. Gladstone provided eye-opening information (and again, a lot of it) but in a very reader friendly way, so that even the reluctant reader would be able to enjoy learning on this slightly difficult/possibly boring topic.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    Boring. I had to skim through a lot of it. I agree with reviewers who wondered who the audience was for this. No reason for it to be a graphic novel. The pictures added nothing, and there were way too many words, to be honest. I'm saying this as somebody who also reads a variety of things, including regular non-fiction and 1000 page fantasy epics, so it's not necessarily that I have a short attention span... It's just that I was expecting something more engaging from a graphic novel, I guess, an Boring. I had to skim through a lot of it. I agree with reviewers who wondered who the audience was for this. No reason for it to be a graphic novel. The pictures added nothing, and there were way too many words, to be honest. I'm saying this as somebody who also reads a variety of things, including regular non-fiction and 1000 page fantasy epics, so it's not necessarily that I have a short attention span... It's just that I was expecting something more engaging from a graphic novel, I guess, and this was just boring. It's also by no means revolutionary, and honestly just kind of toes the mainline Democratic line pretty neatly, as far as I could tell. Maybe I'm just crazy left-leaning, I don't know. It just seemed like it was supporting the same old corrupt (sorry, they are corrupt) institutions. Definitely not a "maifesto" by any means. Yawn. Oh well.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Brooke Gladstone gave us all a lot to think about in this book, but I don't think that I agree with her thesis that the media is influenced by public opinion. Yes, there are thousands of blogs and websites but they don't have the power that TV has. As they say, a picture can be worth a thousand words - especially when you keep seeing it over and over again. I think to a large extent, the established media decides what events are important for us to think about by what they decide to talk about. Brooke Gladstone gave us all a lot to think about in this book, but I don't think that I agree with her thesis that the media is influenced by public opinion. Yes, there are thousands of blogs and websites but they don't have the power that TV has. As they say, a picture can be worth a thousand words - especially when you keep seeing it over and over again. I think to a large extent, the established media decides what events are important for us to think about by what they decide to talk about. Nevertheless, the book was thought provoking. I was in a five week discussion group on the book and it certainly gave us fodder for discussion.

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