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Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death Hardcover – September 23, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
..."thought-provoking...an important resource for journalism schools...."
-"The Evening Post
"[Moeller] provides challenging detail and analysis [and] raises uncomfortable truths in a readable, provocative manner."
""Compassion Fatigue is a reportorial and moral success... [Moeller] demonstrates, in great detail and with tremendous discernment, how [our] self-absorption has served as a prophylactic against understanding."
"Criticism of the press for its foreign coverage is hardly novel, but in this unrelenting, uncompromising book, Moeller manages to cast a fresh, unwavering eye on the problem....That Moeller's suggestions probably will not be acted upon should not diminish the accomplishment of this impressive book."
-"Columbia Journalism Review, July 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
The conclusions Moeller draws, however, are cliché. What do you know, the media disproportionately focuses on the US, and most of what we see of Africa and the Middle East is tragedy, so we get a skewed picture. And the media sensationalize everything, and are fond of shallow, sound-bite explanations of complex tragedies. Who would have guessed any of this without reading the book? I also find her conclusions somewhat contradictory; she argues both that excessive coverage of disasters leads to a hardening of the public's sympathies AND that the media need to increase coverage of foreign tragedies. I think she's arguing that the type of coverage needs to be changes - fewer pictures of starving children, more hard-boiled analysis, but her conclusion is so brief she doesn't elaborate much. So while you will probably enjoy the book, and love the stories, I doubt that when you have finished you will feel that you have a better understanding of the American media.
Compassion Fatigue tells you the how and the why behind what makes the nightly news, and also reveals why a great many other things do not make the news. While mostly a critique of US based media and journalism, it does reveal the gradual trend towards the 'One World' view of things and events that has come to typify reporting of any sort.
Without intending to do so, the book does much to demonstrate that the media, always locked in competition with other forms of 'programming' for our attention, has resorted to marketing information- current events, as a form of entertainment. In place of in-depth, investigative journalism, we now have soundbites featuring 'talking heads', and the cuter or more obscene the personality (and increasingly both), the better.
Each of the so-called 'Four Horsemen'- war, disease, famine and death, are presented and profiled in turn, with detailed discussion about the mechanics behind their delivery to readers and viewers. This book differs from most critiques of the media because it tells the narrative with the assistance of journalists themselves, in the words of the journalists.
Many people in the media know what they are doing is not only questionable, but in some cases, flat out wrong. However, marketability (how well something will go over with viewers) matters more than anything else.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Susan Moeller gets right to the heart of the weaknesses of how the American media covers foreign news and the way the American audience percieves it. Read morePublished on February 9, 1999 by firstname.lastname@example.org
Criticism of the American press -- broadcast and print -- for its foreign coverage is hardly new but Professor Moeller does a masterful job of exposing the causes and the result... Read morePublished on October 11, 1998