How the News Makes Us Dumb
This eye-opening book is for everyone dissatisfied with the state of the news media, but especially for those who think the news actually does inform them about the real world. Read it, and you may never again know the tyranny...
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This eye-opening book is for everyone dissatisfied with the state of the news media, but especially for those who think the news actually does inform them about the real world. Read it, and you may never again know the tyranny of reading the daily newspaper or tuning in to the nightly news.
We who live at the end of the twentieth century are better informed--and more quickly informed--than any people in history. So why do we also seem more confused, divided and foolish than ever before?Some pundits criticize the news media for political bias. Other analysts worry that up-to-the-minute news reports on radio and television oversimplify complex realities. Still more critics point out that today's reporters can't possibly be experts on the wide variety of subjects they cover. Historian C. John Sommerville thinks the problem with news is more basic. Focusing his critique on the news at its best, he concludes that even at its best it is beyond repair.Sommerville argues that news began to make us dumber when we insisted on having it daily. Now millions of column inches and airtime hours must be filled with information--every day, every hour, every minute. The news, Sommerville says, becomes the driving force for much of our public culture. News schedules turn politics into a perpetual campaign. News packaging influences the timing, content and perception of government initiatives. News frenzies make a superstition out of scientific and medical research. News polls and statistics create opinion as much as they gauge it. Lost in the tidal wave of information is our ability to discern truly significant news--and our ability to recognize and participate in true community.This eye-opening book is for everyone dissatisfied with the state of the news media, but especially for those who think the news really informs them about and connects them with the real world. Read it and you may never again know the tyranny of the daily newspaper or the nightly news broadcast.
C. John Sommerville is professor emeritus of history at the University of Florida, a member of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, and senior fellow at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions. His other books include The Decline of the Secular University; The News Revolution in England and Religious Ideas for Secular Universities.
- 1. Why The News Can't Be Fixed
- 2. News Product As Creative Expression
- 3. Being Informed Versus Being Wise
- 4. How News Schedules Drive Our Government
- 5. Politics As A Perpetual Campaign
- 6. Why News Product Looks Nothing Like History
- 7. How News Turns Science Into Superstition
- 8. Polls, Statistics & Fantasy
- 9. Values, Blame & Nagging
- 10. Deep Theory: News As Culture Substitute
- 11. Virtual Society Or Real Community?