Brooke Gladstone, co-host of the excellent NPR-syndicated "On the Media," has teamed up with illustrator Josh Neufeld to produce a fantastic nonfiction comic book called The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media
. This is one of those books that feels like the author has been working up to it for her whole life, distilling all her varied experience and insight into one mind-opening, thought-provoking, and incredibly timely volume.
Influencing Machine begins with a history of the news, starting with Mayan scribes, Herodotus, and Julius Caesar's Acta Diurna (the original syndicated newsheet and the first widely distributed sensationalist tabloid), and then to the Anglo-American history of news, propaganda, bias, lies, censorship, bravery, principle, and truth. This fascinating history serves to introduce the major thesis of Influencing Machine: that the "media machine" that cynically distorts in order to serve the rich and powerful is a delusion. The reality is that the "media agenda" is an emergent phenomenon that arises spontaneously from commercial constraints, human frailty, state interference, and cognitive blindspots.
Gladstone's history of the best and worst of journalism is a prelude to an analysis of the present day, and the peculiar moment we inhabit, as partisan news -- once the dominant form of publishing, but long discredited and dormant -- begins to arise, just as the Internet is changing the way that news is gathered, reported, and analyzed and paid for. Gladstone makes a good case for the idea that total upheaval is actually pretty normal in the world of news, and even if this total upheaval is a bit more total than all the other ones, the apocalyptic story of the death of journalism is overstated, as is the evil nature of the Internet as a sapper of critical thought and sustained attention.
Touching on everything from the impossibility of impartiality to the practical way to address bias, from copyright law to business models, from sensationalism to complicit silence, Gladstone and Neufeld's Influencing Machine is an absolutely spectacular read: serious without being weighty, accessible without being thin. It's one of those graphic nonfiction volumes, like Understanding Comics, that shows just how well suited comics are to explaining and exploring serious subjects.
The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media
Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes’s Secret Coders is volume one in a new series of ingenious graphic novels for young kids that teach the fundamentals of computer science.
Scott Westerfeld’s YA canon is huge and varied, from the Uglies books to the excellent vampire parasitology book Peeps to the dieselpunk Clankers trilogy, and the new one, Zeroes, breaks new ground still: it’s a collaboration with Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti about teens with powers.
Thinking of buying an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus? If photographic quality matters to you, check this out first.
Watching Netflix, Hulu or other streaming services can unfortunately be difficult while traveling outside the US. Rather than bypass these restrictions with the help of a complex and slow VPN, choose a faster and simpler solution with Getflix. Instead of rerouting all your Internet traffic through a different server, this handy service only routes the […]
Shake, stir, and muddle your way to delicious homemade cocktails with this must-have bar set. Expect only the finest quality tools from MakersKit — enabling you to unleash your inner mixologist.Top 12 Favorite Things of 2014, Sunset MagazineQuart-size vintage-style Mason jar shakerRetro double jigger for accurate measurementsStrainer & spouts for a mixologist-style smooth pourHardwood muddler […]
The Lytro Illum dares to be different, boasting even more robust features than its first generation predecessor and a sleek design reminiscent of professional DSLRs. What’s so cool about it? Most cameras capture the position of light rays, producing a statoc 2D image.