Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

Posted by nliakos on July 20, 2012

by Brooke Gladstone, illustrated by Josh Neufeld (W. W. Norton, 2011)

This book is this year’s First Year Book at the University of Maryland and my first experience with “a graphic format” book (Since it’s non-fiction, I can’t call it a graphic novel.). I’m still not sure why she decided to use the graphic format; it doesn’t seem to add anything to the text. The book doesn’t do anything it couldn’t have done in an ordinary text format; actually, there are parts of it that are written that way. The rest of it is essentially a lot of talking heads. Instead of quoting and citing her sources the usual way, Gladstone lets the sources do the talking; sometimes, information about where the quote was taken from appears in the frame (and there is a complete reference list in the back as well). The graphic format made me feel as though the information had been dumbed down, which in fact it wasn’t, but that was the impression I had: it looks like a comic book, so it can’t be serious/intellectually rigorous.  That said, it is a serious history of the media in the United States, and I learned a lot of things I never suspected. For example, there is the “brief history of speech suppression in America” and the explanation of the various types of bias that journalists fall prey to ( commercial bias, bad news bias, status quo bias, access bias, visual bias, narrative bias, and fairness bias).  It’s a good book, but I still don’t really understand why it was done in the graphic format.

4 Responses to “The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media”

  1. nliakos said

    Brooke Gladstone answered my question (why a comic book?) when she spoke at the University of Maryland on October 16. She explained that she did it because the format forced her to whittle the text down to its essence. Now I get it. Thanks, Brooke.

  2. zsagalow said

    I remember Brooke Gladstone also explaining that she thought a comic book format would allow her to tell her story with the “intimacy” and “conversational tone” she has with listeners of her radio show, “On the Media”.

  3. […] is only the second graphic book I have read (the first being The Influencing Machine), and I must confess I don’t particularly like the format. In many cases, the illustrations […]

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