cover image The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld. Norton, $23.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-393-07779-7

Gladstone, cohost of NPR's On the Media, and noted illustrator Neufeld (A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge) make a formidable pair in this fascinating history of media's influence. Gladstone is both narrator and visual tour guide, popping up throughout Neufeld's panels as both her contemporary self and wittily camouflaged alongside historical figures. From the "Acta Diurna" posted in ancient Rome to the outcries over President Adams's Alien and Sedition Acts and McCarthy's Red Scare, Gladstone traces not only the birth of the press but also its various muzzles. The press will not always stay silent, as she illustrates with Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, and Woodward and Bernstein's uncovering of the Watergate scandal. Yet government opacity still abounds, and Gladstone pointedly wonders if secrecy really makes us safer. One of the most intriguing sections deals with bias, a term tossed around so often it's become almost meaningless. Gladstone points to seven key biases that cognizant media consumers should worry about: commercial, bad news, status quo, access, visual, narrative, and fairness. These dovetail nicely into a frank discussion of war journalism, which highlights Neufeld's considerable skills, with each panel bursting with situational details. Gladstone's is an indispensible guide to our ever-evolving media landscape that's brought vividly to life. (May)