Blur: How to Know What’s True In the Age of Information Overload by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel evokes many emotions from the readers. The authors’ purpose was to give the general public tools to discern what portion of the news they here and see is actually true. In the book, the authors mention how they were trained to never raise a question that was not answered during their news segment or article. Today, journalists do it all the time. Some even ask questions at the end of the segment or article. This tactic leaves the viewer confused and wondering what was the purpose of watching or reading the news. In the first five chapters, the authors introduce the following six questions to interpret the news:
- What kind of content am I encountering?
- Is the information complete? If not, what’s missing?
- Who or what are the sources and why should I believe them?
- What evidence is presented and how was it tested or vetted?
- What might be an alternative explanation or understanding?
- Am I learning what I need?
Living in an era where there is access to news around the clock is amazing. Nonetheless, one has to be careful about the sources of the news. There are national news casts, the Internet, radio, newspapers, and magazines all reporting what is supposed to be the facts. With the invention of the television, viewers could now see what they had heard about in the early twentieth century via the radio or read about in the even earlier years of only print media. Of all the different ways news is relayed to the public, the authors seem to believe that the Internet is the most unreliable source because many times it is reported by amateurs. When viewing news on the Internet, the viewer must be able to discern what information is credible and which is the work of an amateur blogger. Thus, the use of the six questions is appropriate.
I believe that technology has decreased the standards in which journalist abide by. In the early years, certain traumatic events were censored. Today, there is very little censorship. Although, the general public wants to see these events, I believe, to a certain extent, it’s the responsibility of trained journalist to discern what is appropriate. Sometimes news reports only fuel more violence and outrage. I also believe that criminals are able to get ideas via news reports. For example, I saw a report on how to kill someone with arsenic without it being detected, I believe this may actually aid in someone being killed. Consequently, I believe all journalists, regardless to which form of news they are reporting, should abide by the same standards. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed and agreed with the authors’ in the first five chapters of the book.
Kovach, Bill. and Tom Rosenstiel. Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010.