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Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload [Paperback]

by Bill Kovach, Tom Rosenstiel
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 30, 2011 1608193012 978-1608193011 Reprint
Amid the hand-wringing over the death of "true journalism" in the Internet Age-the din of bloggers, the echo chamber of Twitter, the predominance of Wikipedia-veteran journalists and media critics Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel have written a pragmatic guide to navigating the twenty-first century media terrain. Yes, old authorities are being dismantled, new ones created, and the very nature of knowledge has changed. But seeking the truth remains the purpose of journalism. How do we discern what is reliable? Blur provides a road map, or more specifically, reveals the craft that has been used in newsrooms by the very best journalists for getting at the truth. In an age when the line between citizen and journalist is becoming increasingly unclear, Blur is a crucial guide for those who want to know what's true.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Veteran journalists Kovach and Rosenstiel (The Elements of Journalism) begin their intelligent and well-written guidebook by assuring readers this is not unfamiliar territory. The printing press, the telegraph, radio, and television were once just as unsettling and disruptive as today's Internet, blogs, and Twitter posts. But the rules have changed. The gatekeepers of information are disappearing. Everyone must become editors assuming the responsibility for testing evidence and checking sources presented in news stories, deciding what's important to know, and whether the material is reliable and complete. Utilizing a set of systemic questions that the authors label "the way of skeptical knowing," Kovach and Rosenstiel provide a roadmap for maintaining a steady course through our messy media landscape. As the authors entertainingly define and deconstruct the journalism of verification, assertion, affirmation, and interest group news, readers gain the analytical skills necessary for understanding this new terrain. "The real information gap in the 21st century is not who has access to the Internet and who does not. It is the gap between people who have the skills to create knowledge and those who are simply in a process of affirming preconceptions without growing and learning." (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* What if the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island occurred today, in the age of the Internet, talk radio, and hyperpartisan “news” programs? Journalists Kovach and Rosenstiel examine that frightening prospect in this book that looks at how Americans will sort out news and information as journalism struggles in the Internet era. After offering historical perspective on the way news gathering has worked and its current state of uncertainty, the authors offer sound lessons on the “tradecraft of verification” necessary for Americans to sort out truth from vested opinion. They offer examples of how reporters typically verify information in contexts from covering wars to politics. They break down the process by emphasizing the kind of information content (news versus commentary); its completeness, source, and tested evidence; and, finally, what readers are learning from what they read. Applying their criteria, the authors analyze several instances of news reporting, commentary, talk-show haggling, and blogging to discern how readers, listeners, and viewers can sort through the cloud of information. Kovach and Rosenstiel combine journalism and civics in this valuable and insightful resource to help Americans adapt to an era that demands that readers become their own editors and news aggregators. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608193012
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608193011
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book to Restore Sanity November 11, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Blur is more than a road map for people to attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff in the amber waves of information that surround and overwhelm us. The authors take us on a wild ride through space and time to decipher the ways in which we ingest the information we need to make decisions that could effect our daily lives and that of our planet. They tell us how we've evolved to this point of cyberoverload, how we've trampled the gatekeepers who once kept us honest, how we've popularized the media to the point of no return, what all of that means for the future of democracy, and what we can do about it. It is not a pretty picture, but it's compelling and thought-provoking. If only this book were required reading for everyone over twelve, we might see more light at the end of the tunnel.

But the crowning achievement of Blur is that the authors have presented such a complex yet cohesive portrait of where we've been, where we are, and where we're going without committing the mortal sin of nonfiction: boring the reader. With a generous use of anecdotal material and case studies, they bring their topics to life in a way that makes this more than an important book, it's a damn good read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 essential questions November 11, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Solid reporting and outstanding analysis. At its core, that's what this book is about.

The news media is changing at warp speed. Lots of people notice that but Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel dig a lot deeper and offer greater insight and understanding than anyone else. Kovach and Rosenstiel look at the history of the changing media with six essential questions readers/viewers should ask about any content they read, see or hear. In their last chapter, the authors outline how journalism needs to change in the 21st century to provide consumers what they need. There is no book out there like it. Its groundbreaking and essential.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good training course in how to read the news April 24, 2011
Format:Hardcover
We are each going to need to learn to be our own editors, gatekeepers, and aggregators.
Although, we're likely to be able to find a lot of help.

And first, we should be asking ourselves: Do we even care about reality anymore? Of
course we do, right? Maybe. But, we seem to listen to and enjoy all sorts of myths and
fantasies. A flagrant example is the up-coming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate
Middleton in Britain. So, perhaps the first step I want to take while trying to follow
the advice in this book is to decide, when faced with any given story or news account, is
whether, with respect to this one, things like reality, truth, accuracy, etc matter to me.

There are actually two sides to this book, both valuable: (1) On the consumer side, this
is a book about how we can become better and smarter users of the news. It's about what
each of us should to in the way of fact-checking, evaluating, verifying, and understanding
the news we read and hear. (2) On the producer side, it's about what reporters and
newspapers (for example), should be doing so as to produce the news and the stories that
we need.

As for the producers, there is a section about what new types of workers we will need in
the news production pipeline.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
With so much information available on the Internet, more news consumers are helping themselves to exactly the current events information they want, instead of letting the media determine what they see and hear. Average citizens can become better judges of the quality of the news reports they receive by practicing certain techniques that professional journalists use. These methods require the disciplined exercise of judgment, curiosity and skepticism. This illuminating book provides useful steps for identifying reliable journalists and news organizations, for instance, by evaluating their sources of information. Media veterans Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel illustrate many of their points with references to leading journalists and their reporting techniques. getAbstract recommends their instructive book to busy professionals seeking effective ways to stay informed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blur Brings Information Skills Into Focus October 1, 2011
Format:Paperback
Blur is a dense look at how journalism is changing and how consumers can utilize journalistic skills to understand the news and information around them. Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel discuss the challenges facing anyone who is trying to determine the truth of what they are reading online, the different types of journalism that you are likely to encounter, and how to identify not just the reliable sources but, on any given news-related Web site, the types of content that require more or less additional skepticism.

Although this book is placed under the journalism subject heading, it is perfect for just about anyone who spends time reading news and opinion content online. Kovach and Rosenstiel write engagingly, and any jargon is clearly explained both in general terms but also by providing context through examples. This makes the text accessible and they further break down the process - using the clever term, tradecraft of verification - to enable any information consumer to create the habits necessary to look at online information with the appropriate level of skepticism.

I read Blur during a week when the Pew Research Center for the People & Press report on news media was released (66% of Americans say news stories are often inaccurate, overall performance grows more negative) and the satirical news Web site, the Onion, was dealing with a Twitter post that had caused strong negative opinion because some people had been unable to identify it as fake news. The lessons to be learned from Blur make these sorts of stories more relevant and underscore the need for more people to be increasingly curious about their information sources and what those sources say.

The authors are not saying that everyone can be a journalist, or that everyone is.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast way to pick up a textbook
My son needed this for a report on the weekend. Was great to be able to download in an instant and read on my Kindle!
Published 12 months ago by haynesd1
4.0 out of 5 stars worth it~~
refreshing - gave me some tools with which to asses 'the blur' inundating us all -
well paced and easy to explore -
Published 12 months ago by karen marcum
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential information for all news consumers
Anyone who reads, listens to or watches any aspect of the news today should take a look at the reality presented by Kovach and Rosenstiel in his book. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Anthony Depalma
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good, But Boring at the End
The first 2/3 of this book on the 6 principles of analyzing media content was pretty good. It was intellectually rigorous and interesting. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Book Fanatic
2.0 out of 5 stars Blur
An interesting essay idea that was fleshed out into an overlong book. Too much redundancy. I was not impressed by the book and could not recommend it. I was bored reading it.
Published on December 19, 2011 by Vickie Cyr
5.0 out of 5 stars A great primer on how to separate fact from fiction
I found Blur to be an exceptional primer on how to separate fact from fiction in the digital age. Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel have done it again! Read more
Published on July 17, 2011 by Fabrice Florin
4.0 out of 5 stars Fact check error
Blur has one serious error that should be corrected. The authors state that writing was developed about 5,000 years ago, but that speech was developed a mere 6,000 years ago! Read more
Published on January 11, 2011 by Ralphem
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Holiday Gift for News Junkies
The brand new book "BLUR -- How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload" is the perfect gift for anyone who cares about the news. Read more
Published on December 15, 2010 by Linda Shoemaker
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely, compelling and important road map for the information age
"Blur" cuts through the haze of our cluttered media landscape with clarity and insight. The opening with Three Mile Island re-imagined in the digital age is brilliant. Read more
Published on November 13, 2010 by Alan C. Miller
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