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Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture [Hardcover]

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Item Number 393488  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   133
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 25, 2008
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1594032122  
EAN  9781594032127  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Goes behind the headlines to explore the inner workings of the mainstream media, as well as the crisis of its declining authority, circulation, and viewership, contending that a fixed dedication to a spurious notion of objectivity, along with its addiction to scandal and conviction of its moral superiority, have led to a worldwide exodus to other news sources.

Publishers Description
James Bowman provides a scintillating and fast-paced anatomy of the mainstream media self-generated demise. The Mind of the Media looks behind the headlines to examine mainstream media's governing myths. Writing with acerbic wit, Bowman shows how the mainstream media's embrace of a spurious notion of objectivity, combined with its addiction to scandal, and an unshakable conviction of its own moral superiority have done irreparable damage to the media's public authority.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Rapidly declining in relevance  Sep 25, 2008
James Bowman acknowledges the decline of the mainstream media of the past but spends most of the text missing the point. What are the audience share leaders today? Not network news, not CNN, not newspapers or newsmagazines. They are sliding fast in relevance. The share gainers are Fox News, CNBC, and a bazillion Web sites and bloggers, heavily leaning right. Roger Ailes thought the answer to pervasive liberal control of old-school media was to build his own intentionally biased news machine. The big difference here is the intent. Old-school media never plotted to be one-sided, they just likeminded themselves into unrestrained subjectivity. The new media are built to play the spin game, not a positive development. Bowman needs to spend more time working on the immorality of his own side.
The Media Is/Are The Emperor Without Clothes  Sep 13, 2008
First a note: I loved the discussion of having to use plural verbs for "media" (Latin plural) but I shall use the common singular usage.

This is an important little (117 pages) book exposing the media as not wearing any clothes while believing themselves omniscient and above all taint of bias. Yet, everyone has a bias -- to deny it is not being honest. Earlier in our history one could tell a newspaper's bias at a glance -- the paper's name was the Arkansas Globe-Democrat, or the Springfield Republican. Now the New York Times claims to be totally without bias and holding the moral high ground to always be able to see and expose the hidden meaning or agenda in every action of politicians they do not like (i.e. Bush.) Bowman exposes this ridiculous contention as hyprocrisy, hyperbole and hubris, and he does it with style.

Bowman is in love with long, involved sentences, and I recommend a close, and if required, a second read. His logic is sometimes not easy to follow, but it is there and fully developed. However, he would have done well to follow Napoleon's aprocryphal practice of always giving an order to his Polish valet first and have him explain its meaning. If the valet interpreted the order correctly, then Napoleon could feel somewhat confident that his marshals would be able to understand it. Bowman could use such a valet.

The idea of "media madness" is that the media is so full of itself that it is incapable of comprehending its deficiencies. I'm reminded of a friend who lives in Berkeley, California, and believes that Berkeley politics are firmly in the middle of the road although most outside observers would characterize them as being somewhere left of Lenin. She has succumbed to the constant and comprehensive propaganda of the media and has become incapable of separating polemic from factual reporting. Unfortunately, the media, as Bowman points out, is fully emcompassed in groupthink and incapable of seeing what they are doing. They have a herd mentality in which one can always recognize a well-informed individual -- his opinion is the same as your own. Yes, Bowman uses examples and only a few, but recounting a few thousand examples as he easily could would make his thesis sleep-inducing and counter-productive.

Bowman argues that there is NO objectivity currently in the media except as interpreted as being pointed toward convincing the reader/listener of the correctness of the writer's point of view. The writer filters all data through his Hume-oriented a priori framework of knowledge (leftist, in the vast majority of cases) and produces information consistent with his own beliefs for the recipient to use in creating his. This is natural, and to hold forth that it is otherwise is not being intellectually honest. As an example, NBC reported its newsflash on Palin's selection by McCain with the statement; "How many houses will she add to McCain's number?" But, of course, NBC was just reporting objectively.

Secondly, Bowman dismisses the idea of professionalism being an aspect of journalism. He is quite correct, of course, in spite of the many "distinguished" schools of journalism in elite universities teaching writing process rather than mastery of the subject matter. The same problem exists in education schools where mastery of subject matter is excluded and held to be irrelevant. Far more important is teaching how to make up lesson plans, visual aids, and learn techniques to "understand" the students' problems. One only needs to look at Helen (I've momentarily forgotten her last name), the dean of the White House Press Corps, to put any idea of professionalism to rest.

Bowman paints the alternate reality in which the media functions with humor and style. The media's reality is not the facts or words pronounced by a subject, but what lies underneath as discovered or manufactured by the media itself. Context is only important if it supports the directional thrust of the reporter, and more often than not is ignored so that sinister conspiracies and evil intents can more easily be inferred for sensationalistic effect. After all, that's what earns a Pulitzer Prize.

The media also uses victims extensively, treating them as experts on whatever subject involves their victimhood. Does Cindy Sheehan really qualify as an expert on geo-political foreign policy by virtue of having lost a son in a war? As Bowman points out, it is "mean-spirited" to attack victims, regardless of their lack of expertise. And it is most useful to quote such individuals to express the reporter's own point of view -- then he is shielded from having to state it himself and he can hide behind his saintly "objectivity." Celebrities are likewise extremely useful, not only to make news more entertaining, but to create a herd mentality using them as opinion leaders. Almost astoundingly, this technique works, as Bowman makes clear, particularly when the symbiotic relationship between the media and celebrities (who both need each other) can be effectively hidden from view by taking unassailable moral stances.

The weakest part of the book concern the future of the media due to the impact of bloggers on the internet. Bowman appears to believe that bloggers may provide a counterpoint to the mainstream media and reduce its power to propagandize, but that remains to be seem. There is a valid argument here, but bloggers currently are simply providing information that the "professional" journalists have missed for them to seize upon and more widely disseminate. Maybe the bloggers will show the media that it is not wearing any clothes, but I doubt it.

In short, this in an important book that should be BOUGHT and READ.

Unfortunately as Napoleon said about Jomini's book exposing Napoleon's techniques of strategy and tactics; "No matter, the young officers who will read it do not command, and the generals in command will not read it." Such is life -- I doubt if anyone in the media will read this book and allow himself to be influenced by it. To do so would be to repudiate journalism as is currently practiced in the US and his own reason for existence.
Lucid and True  May 25, 2008
Watch Video Here: http://www.this Bernard Chapin saying hi and this, like Honor, is another wonderful James Bowman book.
The excessive damage they have done to themselves and others  May 6, 2008
Everyone is biased - it's a simple fact of life. It's the media's job to simply feign unbiased and honest reporting. "Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture" is an examination of today's media and the mythology that governs it. Written with a dry, sarcastic wit throughout, author and writer for the Wall Street Journal James Bowman attacks the media's obsessive love of scandal, moral superiority, and the excessive damage they have done to themselves and others, and how the world is moving away from them because of it. "Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture" is highly recommended for community library social issues shelves and for anyone also disenfranchised with today's news media.
Major Disappointment  May 1, 2008
Although I found Bowman's previous book (Honor: A History) to be not all that well-written, there was enough of interest for me to consider adopting Media Madness for the course I teach on politics and the media. I was hoping it would provide a well-reasoned conservative take on the media, but I was very disappointed. Bowman's method is to construct a theory of isolated instances, as opposed to conducting a more rigorous analysis of the evidence at hand. This is not a work of scholarship by any means - it is an ill-informed partisan jeremiad. Bypass it in favor of Neil Postman's classic Amusing Ourselves to Death, or Farhad Manjoo's True Enough.

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