"Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American...

Book Brief

February 04, 1996|By Tim Jones | Tim Jones,Chicago Tribune

"Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy," by James Fallows. Pantheon. 296 pages. $23 This is a disturbingly thoughtful book. The author, Washington editor of the Atlantic Monthly, has fashioned a powerful indictment of media more inclined toward exploitation than explanation, and pontificating rather than probing.

"The message of today's news coverage is often that the world cannot be understood, shaped or controlled, but merely endured or held at arm's length." What is too often missing in daily reporting - especially on television - is a sense of context, the connecting points that explain the broader relevance of an event. This is perhaps the most compelling argument in the book because it highlights the "if-it-bleeds-it-leads" mentality of television news and the chronic attention-deficit syndrome that afflicts much of the media.

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