The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

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by Brooke Gladstone, Josh Neufeld
     
 

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"Mind-opening, thought-provoking and incredibly timely… An absolutely spectacular read."—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
A million listeners trust NPR's Brooke Gladstone to guide them through the complexities of the modern media. Bursting onto the page in vivid comics by acclaimed artist Josh Neufeld, this brilliant radio personality guides us through two

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Overview

"Mind-opening, thought-provoking and incredibly timely… An absolutely spectacular read."—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
A million listeners trust NPR's Brooke Gladstone to guide them through the complexities of the modern media. Bursting onto the page in vivid comics by acclaimed artist Josh Neufeld, this brilliant radio personality guides us through two millennia of media history, debunking the notion that "The Media" is an external force beyond our control and equipping us to be savvy consumers and shapers of the news.

Editorial Reviews

Stephen Colbert
“A great book.”
The Atlantic
“One of the coolest and most charming book releases of this year.”
The New Yorker
“A comic book with zest and brains—and it just might help a reader understand the brave new world.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“It’s easy to imagine The Influencing Machine becoming mandatory reading in journalism classes around the country.”
Publishers Weekly
Gladstone, cohost of NPR's On the Media, and noted illustrator Neufeld (A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge) make a formidable pair in this fascinating history of media's influence. Gladstone is both narrator and visual tour guide, popping up throughout Neufeld's panels as both her contemporary self and wittily camouflaged alongside historical figures. From the "Acta Diurna" posted in ancient Rome to the outcries over President Adams's Alien and Sedition Acts and McCarthy's Red Scare, Gladstone traces not only the birth of the press but also its various muzzles. The press will not always stay silent, as she illustrates with Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, and Woodward and Bernstein's uncovering of the Watergate scandal. Yet government opacity still abounds, and Gladstone pointedly wonders if secrecy really makes us safer. One of the most intriguing sections deals with bias, a term tossed around so often it's become almost meaningless. Gladstone points to seven key biases that cognizant media consumers should worry about: commercial, bad news, status quo, access, visual, narrative, and fairness. These dovetail nicely into a frank discussion of war journalism, which highlights Neufeld's considerable skills, with each panel bursting with situational details. Gladstone's is an indispensible guide to our ever-evolving media landscape that's brought vividly to life. (May)
New Yorker
“This is a comic book with zest and brains—-and it just might help a reader understand the brave new world.”
New York Observer
Think Art Spiegelman meets Marshall McLuhan.— Leon Neyfakh
Kirstin Butler - The Atlantic
“One of the coolest and most charming book releases of this year… a refreshingly alternative approach to the age-old issue of why we disparage and distrust the news.”
Leon Neyfakh - New York Observer
“Think Art Spiegelman meets Marshall McLuhan.”
Scott McCloud
“A first-rate comics manifesto. The Influencing Machine has influenced me to think much more deeply about the media landscape live in. Gladstone and Neufeld can show and tell with the best of ‘em.”
New York Observer - Leon Neyfakh
“Think Art Spiegelman meets Marshall McLuhan.”
Alison Bechdel
“The Influencing Machine is an indispensable guidebook for anyone who hopes to navigate the mirages and constantly shifting sands of our media landscape. Brooke Gladstone’s text and Josh Neufeld’s images illuminate one another with crackling wit and intelligence.”
Ira Glass
“Like Malcolm Gladwell or Michael Lewis or Michael Pollan, Brooke somehow takes a subject most of us don’t give a damn about and makes it completely entertaining.”
Scott McCloud
“A first-rate comics manifesto. The Influencing Machine has influenced me to think much more deeply about the media landscape live in. Gladstone and Neufeld can show and tell with the best of ‘em.”
Michael Kinsley
“Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine is so remarkable that it is hard to describe. The best I can do is: it’s a book about the history and current controversies of the media, all done as a Spiegelman-style comic-strip narrative. Brooke herself (or at least an avatar) leads you through it all, and her ‘voice’—well known after her years as host of NPR’s On the Media—comes through loud and clear, thanks to Josh Neufeld's witty drawings. I learned a lot, including a lot that I should have known already, and enjoyed every minute.”
Library Journal
"In a world of ceaseless distractions, ideas that grab you by the eyeballs are more likely to stick," Gladstone noted in her proposal for this graphic novel (New York Observer, 5/26/09). Indeed, the result is as much a public service announcement for the power of comics as it is a disquisition on media in general. Like a chatty but interesting poli-sci professor, Gladstone's lines-on-paper avatar takes us through media history, source accuracy (or not), journalist impartiality (or not), bias (seven kinds), dilemmas relating to war reporting, objectivity (or not), disclosure, tricks the mind plays on understanding news stories, and how the media mirror ourselves in all of our human diversity now and into the future. Neufeld's black-and-white art, enlivened with teal wash, enhances Gladstone's points effectively, although without the compelling appeal of his lauded A.D. New Orleans: After the Deluge. Gladstone has been cohost of NPR's On the Media since 2000. VERDICT This comprehensive overview of media history and issues—responsibly referenced in over 200 detailed notes—should be required reading for nearly everybody over age ten, media students, and plain ole citizens, especially. Highly recommended.—M.C.
Kirkus Reviews

Though the graphic format employed here is often playful and always reader friendly, this analysis of contemporary journalism is as incisive as it is entertaining, while offering a lesson on good citizenship through savvy media consumption.

As co-host of NPR'sOn the Media,radio veteran Gladstone must have gotten a change-of-pace kick out of a project so dependent on visuals in general and her own caricature in particular. She finds an ideal collaborator in artist Neufeld, whoseA.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge(2009) could be categorized as graphic journalism.While the current technological revolution has many claiming that journalism has reached a state of crisis, if not obsolescence, the author takes a longer view, emphasizing not only that "we've been here before," but that"Everything we hate about media today was present at its creation." Instead of wringing her hands over manipulation and distortion, as well as the pesky impossibility of objectivity, Gladstone focuses more of her attention on biases that are institutional rather than ideological.Among them: commercial bias toward "conflict and momentum" (the narrative momentum that attracts readership), the access bias that results in self-censorship, the fairness bias that makes it seem like two sides have equal weight (when there could be many sides). The author also shows how every president eventually considers the press an adversary, and why war reporting tends to be particularly problematic ("Every media bias shows up in war reporting, in spades." Ultimately, she urges a democracy that relies on media to share responsibility "by playing an active role in our media consumption."

While some may see a sign of bias in the author's own media affiliation, this historical analysis of how and why media and society shape each other should prove illuminating for general readers and media practitioners alike.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393342468
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/07/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
343,917
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Stephen Colbert
A great book.

Meet the Author

Brooke Gladstone is cohost of NPR’s On the Media and former senior editor of All Things Considered. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Josh Neufeld is the author of the New York Times bestseller A. D.: New Orleans After the Deluge and A Few Perfect Hours. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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