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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Is there any refuge from the media that often seem to overwhelm us? Todd Gitlin, a renowned New York University professor of culture, journalism, and sociology, shows how we are bombarded, on a daily basis, by an overload of sights and sounds -- regardless of where we are and what we're doing.
Gitlin makes the point early on that we're subjected to so many different types of media that we're not even aware of the sheer cumulative bulk. The apt analogy he makes is to the old parable of the driver who's repeatedly stopped at the border by the cop who's sure that something's being smuggled in. Each time, the cop does a meticulous search of the truck, only to find nothing illegal. Finally, the exasperated cop begs the presumed smuggler, now about to retire from the business, to tell him what's been smuggled over the years. "Trucks!" the smuggler replies. Gitlin's point is that we're so busy looking at the message of each individual bit of media that we often don't realize that, as Marshall McLuhan famously claimed, "The Medium is the Message!"
Gitlin goes on to break the recipients of these nonstop messages down into types, based on how they "navigate" the media: the Fan (who can't get enough); the Content Critic (who carefully chooses his media); the Paranoid (who's worried that he's being "programmed"); the Exhibitionist (who wants to be part of the message itself); the Ironist (who takes it all with a grain of salt); the Jammer (who wants to change the message to suit his own cause); the Secessionist (who throws the TV out); and the Abolitionist (who counsels others to do the same).
Gitlin has written a wise and profound look at media, ideal for anyone trying to make sense of today's world. (Nicholas Sinisi)
Nicholas Sinisi is the Barnes & Noble.com Nonfiction editor.