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Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  166 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Why do Americans mistrust the news media? It may be because show like "The McLaughlin Group" reduce participating journalists to so many shouting heads. Or because, increasingly, the profession treats issues as complex as health-care reform and foreign policy as exercises in political gamesmanship. These are just a few of the arguments that have made Breaking the News so ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 14th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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Jimmy
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Almost accidentally, I started reading James Fallow's blog at the Atlantic a few months ago and found it to be one of the most refreshingly insightful blogs I've read. It's rare to read someone who, even if he may not always be correct, has obviously given a lot of thought to what he writes.

So I decided to read this book by him. It was written in the 90's and thus is kind of dated, but that doesn't diminish the points it makes. I thought I wouldn't learn many new things about the press that I
...more
Ronald Wise
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for anyone who has ever been exasperated by television news coverage and those talk shows were the pundits exchange meaningless sound-bites. I bought and first read this book about ten years ago and have relied on its material many, many times since in political discussions. It was time to refresh my memory on the details, though the names of the main culprits have changed some since the book was written - back then making outrageous political statements got ...more
Will Byrnes
Oct 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
about how media undermines democracy - Quite good
Sally Sugarman
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a thought provoking book. Essentially Fallows thinks that because of the model of television, journalism has become entertainment and that too many newscasters and journalists become celebrities in their own right and are thereby compromised in giving the public the information that it needs to make informed decisions. He talks about the enormous speaking fees that people like Cokie Roberts gets. He also talks about their need for access or at least their perceived need for that. They ...more
Hope
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Essentiallly this book was a long essay that did a deep dive into the ethics of journalism and the responsibilities of the work. I can understand it not being for everyone, but since this is part of what I studied at school, I enjoyed it. I appreciated the detail that the author went into with the different points he was trying to make. Despite it being an older publication and focusing mainly on the problems of the Clinton campaign and presidency, it made so many points that were still relevant ...more
Carl Pag
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
the only way we can sort out what's important and what's not, is Numbers. But few media clips include any. This always puzzled me. Is it that people who major in journalism are bad at math?

Fallows explained it! Journalists work on deadline. Each number needs to be fact checked by someone else. So number free (and I would say information free) articles can be turned in at the last minute.
Eric
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
James Fallows was the editor at U.S. News and World Report when he wrote this book. I subscribed to it for six months a few years ago and canceled, because it was indistinguishable from Time and Newsweek. I don't know if Fallows is still with the magazine.

It's safe to say that Fallows has issues with his contemporaries in the press, and he's not shy about naming names. George Will, Michael Kinsley, Cokie Roberts, and other big-name journalists come under his fire. I wonder how they all reacted
...more
David Stephens
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
There has been quite a bit of discussion about the leaks of Edward Snowden recentlywhether they were helpful or harmfuland within those debates, there has been even more discussion about what the role of journalism should be. Should it simply present people with information in the most "objective" way possible, or should it advocate for certain positions over others?

Long time journalist for The Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows, makes it clear why this is a highly specious question to answer. He
...more
John Jaksich
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
While this book was originally published in 1996, it has not lost its timeliness nor lustrous value. Mr. Fallows may one day reap generous accolades for this book-- and all his publications that he richly deserves.

However, I have taken my time in finishing this book and I am glad I did so. I started to read this book during the Obama President administration-- and I learned much from the wisdom contained herein.

While reading this book over a period of a few years-- I have come to understand how
...more
Mary
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This analysis applies equally well today. There is no reporting on policies, just on who's ahead, the politics of the policies. Upper echelon journalists are making a killing on the lecture circuit, compromising their integrity in the process. The ethics of journalism is that coverage trumps compassion. But today things are worse, as people simply lie about the facts.
David
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political, cultural
This book very nearly got 5 stars from me (I generally avoid 5 star ratings). It was very eye-opening to see the forces at work that encourage reporters to cover things in the unhelpful way that so many of them do. It ends by offering a glimmer of hope in the fact that there is a movement in some journalism circled to correct these growing errors.
Jennie
Feb 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I first read this about ten years ago in college and picked it up again not too long ago. It is a great read, but really depressing for anyone who looks to the media to act as a watchdog on government.
Brent
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: journalism consumers and Fallows fans
Recommended to Brent by: The Atlantic monthly and Leon County Leroy Collins Public Library
Shelves: journalism, history
I seem to recall reading most of this in excerpts in The Atlantic, then checking it out from the public library in hardback.
I'll read Fallows on most topics, but this was just before the internet changed everything, and captured the bitter pills of the mid-1990s.
Ryan
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
While dated with its examples, the book is prescient in content. The situation Fallows describes is even more true today than in the 90s and the warnings more important. An important read.
Hera Diani
Jul 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Confirming that journalists from developed countries are not necessary better (paging Jane Perlez!!) :)
Anastasia Sijabat
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Pardon my subjectivity since I'm a communication science student, but I think what Fallows wrote in this book was quite mindblowing. I absorb a lot of knowledge and good analysis here. Good job.
Jess
Jun 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: media
It's true. The title, that is.
Polly Callahan
Jun 22, 2011 marked it as to-read
Shelves: government
recommended by AP government teachers
Glendora
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Well-argued and clearly written. What Fallows found to be true about the media system in 1996 has only increased along the same lines today.
Alex
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Of course, things have only gotten worse since.
Steven
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow. Holds up incredibly well and makes a lot of sense today, even though things like Twitter weren't around when it was written. Very impressive.
Caro
Apr 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: current-affairs
Interesting review of the media industry analyzing it as a competitive sport, rtaher than as a genuine, earnest provide of information.
Don McNay
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Mar 01, 2015
Denton Peter McCabe
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Oct 29, 2016
Chris Griger
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Mar 19, 2010
David
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Rickey
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Mar 21, 2008
Matt Plaza
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Nov 23, 2019
Eric Vollmer
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Mar 24, 2012
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