Virtuous Reality: How America Surrendered Discussion of Moral Values to Opportu Nists: Nitwits, and Blockheads Like William Bennett

Jon Katz, Author
Jon Katz, Author Random House (NY) $21 (256p) ISBN 978-0-679-44913-3
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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The new media, led by the Internet, is weakening the control news outlets such as newspapers and television have over the delivery of information, observes Katz, who argues that in an effort to retain their influence, the old media guard has criticized the new technologies for lowering the standards of journalism and contributing to the breakdown of morality in America. He further claims that by continually criticizing Generation X, the old guard has helped fuel the culture wars in the country and that the established media should not be surprised that few young people read newspapers or watch TV news. But rather than distancing people from information, the new media is giving people a greater chance to make their voices heard, Katz says. It is this plethora of new outlets that scares not only the old media but conservatives like former Education Secretary William Bennett, who charge that the new media is encouraging today's youths to engage in all sorts of illegal and amoral activities such as gang violence and conceiving out-of-wedlock babies. Katz, the media critic for Wired magazine, rejects those arguments and cites a number of other factors contributing to problems of the young, such as one-parent homes, poor schools and the proliferation of drugs and guns. Readers who are already fans of the new media will agree with much of what Katz writes, but it is doubtful that he will convert those who think the new media is the enemy. (Feb.)
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