Book Review: World of news through the eyes of a veteran journalist
“Overload: Finding the truth in today’s deluge of news”
by Bob Schieffer
I suspect a lot of us are overwhelmed by the explosion of news: the 24 hour cycle, rise of disinformation in the form of “fake news” and multiple sources. We no longer pretend a nightly newscast or local newspaper will make us properly informed citizens, but where do we look to find appropriate news?
“Overload: Finding the truth in today’s deluge of news,” by Bob Schieffer with H. Andrew Schwartz, may help. Part Journalism 101, part 2016 presidential campaign news analysis and part news source guidebook, it makes for an interesting read.
Veteran journalist Bob Schieffer, longtime host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” takes us on a historic tour of journalism. He describes the news world of our parents and grandparents, one anchored by newspaper reporters filing daily stories. Then CNN arrived with its 24-hour news cycle.
The biggest impact on the world of news, however, has been a result of internet technology and the rise of social media. Schieffer points to studies indicating a majority of American adults get some news from social media, and more so for younger adults.
Schieffer uses 2016 presidential campaign stories throughout the book to explain the important role of reporters. Historically, they have been unbiased information gatherers and disseminators, often criticized by those with differing opinions. Reporters interviewed by Schieffer about the 2016 campaign spoke of its unusual tone and of their efforts to produce accurate reports. They were discouraged when their stories were labeled fake.
False stories have been part of the news world since its inception. But the Internet allows false stories to be spread instantly, and the stories are impossible to fully retract. Schieffer found that during the 2016 campaign, fake news became a tactic used to confuse voters for political and financial gain. Schieffer adds more about fake news in an interview with Stephen Colbert, discussing the difference between transparent fake news and “just plain lying.”
Well-known traditional media sources, such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, are examined in separate chapters. With adults moving to the internet for news and advertising revenue moving with them, traditional news outlets have had to change their business strategies to avoid failure. These chapters include interviews with key individuals who discuss the future of their businesses in the internet age.
New media outlets that capitalize on new technology are discussed in the chapters written by H. Andrew Schwartz of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. They feature current trends in news delivery: digitally native news, podcast news and newsletters. Schwartz provides guides to sources of digitally native news, such as Buzzfeed and Breitbart, and podcast news, such as “The Ben Shapiro Show” and “TED Radio Hour.” Schwartz also discusses the return of the newsletter, delivered to a subscriber’s inbox.
The book is a wealth of information about the news landscape, past and present. Schieffer, a respected journalist who has won countless awards in his field, provides valuable insights for finding appropriate news to keep us properly informed.
This book would make a great gift for the news junkies on your holiday list.
This book is available at Off the Beaten Path and Bud Werner Memorial Library.
Review written by Vicky Barney, a reference assistant at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
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