It took me some 20 years of writing about the media to coalesce a view coherent enough to call my own. The fact that I chose a comic-book format to present that view might seem a little peculiar to those who know me from the radio. After all, radio is the medium without pictures. Voices are very personal. Another reason for using comics: The world is full of media books with competing predictions of cyber-utopia or annihilating chaos. I steer between those shoals, and sometimes bump up against both of them.
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It took me some 20 years of writing about the media to coalesce a view coherent enough to call my own. The fact that I chose a comic-book format to present that view might seem a little peculiar to those who know me from the radio. After all, radio is the medium without pictures. Voices are very personal. Another reason for using comics: The world is full of media books with competing predictions of cyber-utopia or annihilating chaos.
I steer between those shoals, and sometimes bump up against both of them. I want those moments to stick with the reader. Pictures, especially the sly, evocative pictures drawn here by Josh Neufeld, are sticky.
The first excerpt, called "Objectivity," challenges two common assumptions about objectivity: that it is essential to good journalism and that it is real. It is neither. The second excerpt is a cautionary tale about numbers. There are quite a few such tales in the book about how humans are wired to absorb information that confirms their worldview, and to repel information that disputes it. The quality of that information is immaterial. The point of the book is that the media are not the "influencing machine" of popular imagination, but rathera mirror.
Coming Thursday: The Goldilocks Number —why the same figure pops up in media reports about pedophiles, murders, snakebites, car accidents, malaria, and everything else.
The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld – review
Over here, Brooke Gladstone is an unknown quantity. But in liberal America, where she presents a public radio show called On the Media , she is something of a star: Kirsty Wark with extra frizz. Alas, this does it no justice at all. Gladstone would rather nudge than shout, drop hints than scrawl bullet points on a whiteboard. Even better, she puts the 21st-century media cleverly into context, cramming her book both with history she takes the story of the press right back to ancient Rome, when Julius Caesar decreed that the activities of the Senate be posted on a handwritten sheet and the latest scientific research her analysis of the "Is the internet destroying our capacity to concentrate? Journalists, she believes, are too prone to running with the pack and sometimes craven and afraid not for nothing did the US authorities decide to embed reporters during its adventures in the Middle East; terror and gratitude made the early headlines better than they should have been. Human beings are all prey to unconscious prejudices, and reporters no more or less than anyone else.
The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone On The Media
The patients are able to give only vague hints of its construction. It consists of boxes, cranks, levers, wheels, buttons, wires, batteries, and the like. Patients endeavor to discover the construction of the apparatus by means of their technical knowledge, and it appears that with the progressive popularization of the sciences, all the forces known to technology are utilized to explain the functioning of the apparatus. All the discoveries of mankind, however, are regarded as inadequate to explain the marvelous powers of this machine, by which the patients feel themselves persecuted. The main effects of the influencing machine are the following: It makes the patient see pictures. When this is the case, the machine is generally a magic lantern or cinematograph. The pictures are seen on a single plane, on walls or windowpanes, and unlike typical visual hallucinations are not three-dimensional.