Lian Chang's Reviews > The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone
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's review
Aug 19, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

brooke gladstone (host of NPR's On The Media) and illustrator Josh Neufeld take you on a enlightening and entertaining path through media in general and in particular this unwieldy -- and surprisingly modern -- thing called The News.

this book was actually heartening for me, and i think it would be too for anyone else troubled by the pervasive lamentations: the shrinking newsrooms, diminishing circulations and ad revenues, the infotainmentization of the 24-hour news cycle, the shady journalistic ethics and flagrant political allegiances of News Corp, the internet's mind-narrowing echo chamber effect.

while not glossing the discontents of the modern age, gladstone points out is that the media has seen much worse days. she points out that we as an audience (and as an electorate) were once much more illiterate, much more gullible, much less acculturated to the notion of objectivity (imperfect as it still is, and always will be, of course).

the chaptered essay approach, along with the illustrated format -- in which gladstone appears virgil-like to walk us through the narrative (which owes a great debt to scott mccloud's Understanding Comics -- is perfect.

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