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Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of…
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Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload

by Bill Kovach, Tom Rosenstiel

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a well written book that reinforces the basics of good journalism. The difficulty that I have with the book is that the title seems to imply that the discussion would focus on critical thinking and fact-finding in the Internet era. Although the Internet is mentioned, most of the focus is on tried and true techniques illustrated by examples that are quite dated. Watergate, for example, is an excellent example of investigative journalism, but what would that investigation look like in the context of today's technology? The message seems to be 'let a couple of old-timers tell you about the fundamentals of journalism - they never change'. Well, I suspect journalism has changed significantly but you won't find anything specific in Blur. For example, say you were receiving messages on Twitter or Facebook from an journalist in, say, Egypt. Are there any tools or methods that could be used to verify this source? This book will not tell you about that kind of thing, it will just tell you that if you want to be a good journalist you should get your feet on the ground like journalists did in Viet Nam.

So I was educated by this book, but disappointed. ( )
  Tod_Christianson | Dec 14, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A handy primer of news media and the impact various forms of communication have had on what constitutes “news.” Kovach and Rosenstiel focus on four key models of journalism: verification (emphasizing accuracy of facts and context); assertion (more passive, focusing on immediacy and volume); affirmation (selective data delivered to an existing audience, less to inform than to affirm a given ideology or mobilize audience members for action); and interest-group journalism (biased, funded by special-interest groups). In examining each of these models in detail, the authors provide readers with a solid introduction to the concept of critical thinking. With the advent of digital technology, where more and more people are self-reliant in sourcing (and disseminating) information themselves, this kind of questioning is vital to determine how meaningful and trustworthy the news we access really is. ( )
  EAG | Mar 24, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The most common criticism of late-20th and early 21st century journalism seems to be that it's not "real journalism" anymore. Kovach and Rosenstiel offer a model which considers that the thing we call "journalism" might not be a monolith. They find historical precedents for 4 different models - a "journalism of verification" which matches that "real journalism" category, a "journalism of assertion" which values immediacy over analysis, a "journalism of affirmation" which presents news in a way most likely to reinforce the beliefs of its audience, and an "interest-group journalism" in which special interests create content which looks like news to an uninformed viewer. They also recognize a "journalism of aggregation", in which organizations and individuals curate the "news feed" that is interesting to them.

While the bulk of the book talks about the first 3 models, and how to recognize and analyze them, the real theme of the book might be the last category. Individuals have increasingly accepted more of the responsibility for collecting their own varied sources of news, and the broad journalism industry has responded in logical ways to stay in business. If we are all becoming "aggregators" in one sense or another, we need to understand the different kinds of journalism, and know how to evaluate them (as what they are, not what we wish they were).

I didn't find the last section, on the future of news, as satisfying as the rest of the book. As good journalists, Kovach and Rosenstiel are measured in their language and conservative in their predictions. Unfortunately, that style which works so well for the rest of the book doesn't match the job of forecasting. (This is also the section where I felt too many sentences began or ended with "as we discuss in our other book...")

This book should be taught in high school, as part of preparation for informed citizenship. (Sadly, it probably will mostly be taught in college journalism classes.) ( )
  hipdeep | Jan 30, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book has two main themes: how to be an informed consumer in today's news environment, and what news organizations can do to adapt and prosper in this changing environment (a particularly relevant subject right now). The bulk of the book is focused on the former theme, covering such topics as adopting a position of skepticism and critical inquiry when it comes to the news, considering sources and evaluating evidence, and testing for completeness and meaning/sense-making.

Overall, I liked the book. It's well-written, if a bit repetitive in spots. I didn't find it to be a particularly enthralling read, though, at least until the final few chapters. That said, it's a very rewarding read if you keep plugging away at it. ( )
  librarianistbooks | Jan 29, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was impressed with this book. It covers a range of information while still remaining accessible and entertaining. It starts with a brief introduction on how technology has changed the media (newspapers to radio to tv and now internet) and what the traditional role of the media has been. It then goes on to discuss the main 'types' of media out there, and how to distinguish between them.

From 1) Journalism of Verification (traditional model with high value on truth) to
2) Journalism of Assertion (24hr news stations that don't have time to fact check.
3) Journalism of Affirmation: Less a news source, less emphasis on accuracy, more emphasis on a particular type of politics, cherry picking information that supports a particular type of view and on to new watchdog news sources on the internet (Who tend to only watch one particular group or type of law, leading to a slanted website) and some of the more reliable/balanced websites out there (e.g. polifacts).

Within each of these descriptions are interesting real life examples of journalism done right (early examples include reporters who actually went to Vietnam) which help to keep the book interesting. The author concludes with a discussion of what role the media needs to take in the future.

The examples are American based, however you could apply them anywhere. Given the state of the media in the USA right now, I think this book should be required reading for all. Four and a half stars. ( )
  Bcteagirl | Dec 10, 2011 |
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Bill Kovachprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rosenstiel, Tommain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159691565X, Hardcover)

Amid the hand-wringing over the death of "true journalism" in the Internet Age—the din of bloggers, the echo chamber of Twitter, the predominance of Wikipedia—veteran journalists and media critics Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel have written a pragmatic, serious-minded guide to navigating the twenty-first century media terrain. Yes, old authorities are being dismantled, new ones created, and the very nature of knowledge has changed. But seeking the truth remains the purpose of journalism—and the object for those who consume it. How do we discern what is reliable? How do we determine which facts (or whose opinions) to trust? Blur provides a road map, or more specifically, reveals the craft that has been used in newsrooms by the very best journalists for getting at the truth. In an age when the line between citizen and journalist is becoming increasingly unclear, Blur is a crucial guide for those who want to know what's true.

Ways of Skeptical Knowing—Six Essential Tools for Interpreting theNews

1. What kind of content am I encountering? 2. Is the information complete? If not, what's missing? 3. Who or what are the sources and why should I believe them? 4. What evidence is presented and how was it tested or vetted? 5. What might bean alternative explanation or understanding? 6. Am I learning what I need?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:47 -0400)

MEDIA STUDIES. Amid the hand-wringing over the death of "true journalism" in the Internet Age-the din of bloggers, the echo chamber of Twitter, the predominance of Wikipedia-veteran journalists and media critics Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel have written a pragmatic guide to navigating the twenty-first century media terrain. Yes, old authorities are being dismantled, new ones created, and the very nature of knowledge has changed. But seeking the truth remains the purpose of journalism. How do we discern what is reliable? "Blur" provides a road map, or more specifically, reveals the craft that has been used in newsrooms by the very best journalists for getting at the truth. In an age when the line between citizen and journalist is becoming increasingly unclear, "Blur" is a crucial guide for those who want to know what's true.… (more)

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