AdultNonFiction Teton County Library's Reviews > The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone
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's review
Sep 17, 2012

it was amazing

Adam's rating: 5 stars

Graphic novels are an awesome medium for learning stuff about subjects you are interested in, but not so interested that you want to commit tons of time to. Brooke Gladstone assumes correctly that most folks probably have a cursory interest in the media’s influence on society. That the average citizen might be interested in the factors that control the media but not enough to spend more than a graphic novel’s worth of time investigating. At least that’s what I realized about myself when I checked this book out.

Is there a conspiracy to control people’s thoughts through the media? Brooke Gladstone says that there isn’t. There is no puppet master holding all the strings telling people that we should go to war, drill for oil, believe or not believe in global warming. The media isn’t conspiratorial, but it might be craven - lacking the guts and courage to report an unbiased story rooted in truth, fairness and reliability. Gladstone goes on to talk about how hard that is when humans, reporters included, are persuaded by biases, are a product of their times and have only their perspective in a world too big to understand completely. The Influencing Machine is us. The public, especially in our age of internet self-publishing and selectivity, decide what news best suits us, what news most titillates our senses (think: car chases and celebrity gossip), and confirms our world view. Even though our increasing access to original documents allows us to investigate the truth for ourselves, the truth is becoming increasingly harder to decipher. Gladstone encourages the public to take an active role in our media consumption. She advocates for less restrictive intellectual property laws, a freer internet and a moral imagination to use information technology for good.

After reading this, I’m not as quick to say that Fox News is the culprit to our divided political culture, or that we’re all just pawns in a corporatocracy’s plight to control society. So I’m grateful for Gladstone’s Influence Machine and I hope more people read it.

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