A scathing and prescient look at television newsnow updated for the new tech-savvy generation
Television news : genuine information or entertainment fodder? Fifteen years ago, Neil Postman, a pioneer in media education and author of the bestselling Amusing Ourselves to Death, and Steve Powers, an award-winning broadcast journalist, concluded that anyone who relies exclusively on their television for accurate world news is making a big mistake. A cash cow laden with money from advertisers, so-called news shows glut viewers with celebrity coverage at the cost of things they really should know. Today, this message is still appallingly true but the problems have multiplied along with the power of the Internet and the abundance of cable channels. A must-read for anyone concerned with the way media is manipulating our worldview, this newly revised edition addresses the evolving technology and devolving quality of America's television news programming.
Academic Postman ( Amusing Ourselves to Death ) and television newsman Powers (of Fox Five in New York) offer a brief, helpful analysis of America's most popular news source. In a sober but accessible style, the authors address theoretical issues, such as the difficulty of portraying nonvisual abstractions (for example, a new scientific theory) on televison, and describe the selling of the news through techniques such as the ``tease'' and the formation of an on-air ``pseudo-family.'' They reveal how stories originate--often from newspapers and press releases--and show how difficult it is for harried reporters to provide substantive news. The most provocative chapter analyzes the inherent biases and limitations in both language and pictures. The authors conclude with several none-too-radical pieces of advice, including the suggestion that parents seek ways to have schools train children in watching TV news. Regrettably, the authors don't discuss the role of TV criticism or what television news does well. Further, the book would have been much richer if Powers had included anecdotes from his career and reflected from his own experience on in-house decision-making. (Sept.)