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Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press Hardcover – March, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this uneven yet illuminating anthology, editor Borjesson succinctly explains the journalist's predicament: "The buzzsaw is what can rip through you when you try to investigate or expose anything this country's large institutions be they corporate or government want kept under wraps." Indeed, if members of the general public read this book, or even portions of it, they will be appalled. To the uninitiated reader, the accounts of what goes on behind the scenes at major news organizations are shocking. Executives regularly squelch legitimate stories that will lower their ratings, upset their advertisers or miff their investors. Unfortunately, this dirt is unlikely to reach unknowing news audiences, as this volume's likely readership is already familiar with the current state of journalism. Here, Murrow Award-winning reporter Borjesson edits essays by journalists from the Associated Press to CBS News to the New York Times. Each tells of their difficulties with news higher-ups as they tried to publish or air controversial stories relating to everything from toxic dump sites and civilian casualties to police brutality and dangerous hospitals. Some, like BBC reporter Greg Palast's, are merely rants against "corporate" journalism, but others, like New York Observer columnist Philip Weiss's, will serve as meaningful lessons to nascent and veteran writers alike. Most of the sentiments here are especially relevant given the current reports of the war in Afghanistan and questions of their validity, making this timely and essential reading for students and scholars of journalism. (Mar.)Forecast: With Bernard Goldberg's Bias riding high on bestseller lists, Borjesson's offering on news media manipulation is bound to attract serious attention and sales.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-The buzzsaw, explains Borjesson, is what journalists encounter when they attempt to reveal information that the nation's "large institutions-be they corporate or government-" prefer to keep secret. She presents 18 firsthand accounts by authors and print and television producers and reporters who challenged the media structure, often with devastating results to their careers. While Borjesson's and David Hendrix's narratives on the 1996 TWA Flight 800 disaster alone are worth the price of the book, other contributors chronicle their experiences with everything from books suppressed by the publishing industry to drug-war "shills" (those hoping to convince an audience that the "game is honest") to Bobby Garwood, who spent 14 years as a POW in Vietnam. Self-censorship is rife, they say, forcing limits on what constitutes news and whose voice is being heard. This desperate state of modern journalism relates directly to the fact that while good investigative reporting demands time, money, and risk, news executives are more concerned with profitability. Suggested reforms include providing "news that matters" and a return to the First Amendment's promise of a "free press." Many of the essays are blunt; all are provocative, substantiated by examples and evidence. The issues each one raises should spark lively debates in journalism and government classes and stimulate the critical thinking of news consumers. A brief biography and photograph of the contributor prefaces each chapter.
Dori DeSpain, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573929727
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573929721
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,058,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Washington, DC, Kristina Borjesson grew up in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She returned to the US permanently after attending college. She has been an investigative reporter for thirty years and became a media critic fifteen years ago when she was censored for the first time. Her experience is detailed in her first book, "Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press" which won the National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and the Independent Publishers Award. "Buzzsaw" is also a New York Public Library "Books to Remember" selection. Borjesson's second book, "Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11, Top Journalists Speak Out" also won the Independent Publishers Award. Her third book, "The Reptile Club Librarian" is her first work of fiction.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Persefoni on April 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There has been much talk about the supposed liberal bias of the media. I find this absurd. The true bias is pro-establishment, pro-free trade (a misnomer if ever there was one), pro-rich, and anti anything that contradicts these. This is a book for those who wonder why, who question authority, and demand truth. I was introduced to a word in this book; to "privish" is to print too few copies to make a book financially viable. I hope that this is not the fate of this book, as it is a true eye-opener. We live in Orwellian times: Peace is War, Truth is ignorance, etc. To know the inner machinations of journalism is a necessary part of being informed. To read the stories of those who refused to lie down is to remember what "fight" means. Don't be a sheep, even if you believe that the saviour of the human race is a lamb.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen on September 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book to both those who read the news and to those who report it.
As an already extreme skeptic of American news sources, I thought this book would be more entertaining and not so much informative for me. It is actually more informative and shocking than I ever expected.
This book not only provides information you may never have heard before about some high profile news stories, it tells how this information was obtained and the price journalists paid to report it, or try to report it. It has varied views from varied journalists regarding their take on the American media today.
Its an easy book to read, as you can't stop turning the pages, but the stories it tells are not pleasant. As you read this book, you discover that too many media companies use news as a tool to earn higher advertising revenues and manipulate the public, not inform. Our right to a free press is in jeopardy, except for a few courageous, die-hard journalists. After reading it, you wonder how this book ever got published.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a professional journalist, who studied under Fred Friendly at the Columbia U. School of Journalism, I find this the most important (and in light of recent 9/11 FBI revelations, timely) book about American journalism in many years. I read through its 381 pages in just a few days, amazing since I'm not an especially fast reader. I could hardly put it down.
-First, these are great tales written by great writers.
-Second, these are accomplished pros and their experiences span a wide range of media outlets and topics.
-Third, this book makes a pusuasive case both that investigative reporting is essential to an informed American public & the survival of American democracy *and* that it is being sabotaged, by either intention or default, by media companies that (I deduce) are so profit-driven and risk aversive that they can barely be considered as practicing serious journalism.
Anyone who is bored by this book is either sleep deprived, on a controlled substance, or is predisposed against it. After reading this book, it became evident to me that it is now up to journalists ourselves to defend our work and democracy. We are truly America's last hope for an informed public.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Poo-sa'-key on April 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you, like myself, have stopped watching TV news, and question the reason any article appears in the print media, this book is for you. Here are the news stories that were deliberately withheld. Here are the important stories written by true heros that this country seems to be looking for.
I considered myself well informed until I read this book. I am grateful to all who contributed to its content.
This book should scare any thinking adult into taking their citizenship and future seriously enough to pay careful attention and take some action.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By James Brooks on June 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you're like me, perennially skeptical about conspiracy theories and "unsubstantiated" claims, you're in for a shock. I used to blame the dumbed-down American media on a "dumb public" - I said, "we're getting what we asked for." Now I see that this idea was not just arrogant and supercillious (I knew that already!) - it's also dumb, and dangerously misinformed.
This is an exceptionally brave and candid book in which over a dozen award-winning journalists detail a shocking, and rapidly growing, pattern of media censorship in America. It's an excellent introduction to the state of information - and misinformation - in America today, and helps explain why, in the midst of an information flood, the American public is unaware of the deeper picture of government and corporate corruption.
You get the stories straight from the journalists who wrote them, how reporters had to fight for years to get some of the biggest investigative reports of the 1990's into the press - and how many of them lost their jobs in the process.
Into The Buzzsaw shows how corporations and the federal government use the legal system to blackmail the media into silence, and how the consolidation of media ownership and the quest for profits has nearly obliterated the media's service of the public's need to know. The book explains, with detailed examples, how mainstream, respected journalists and editors go out of their way to discredit colleagues for daring to expose taboo information.
For instance, one author is Gary Webb, who wrote the San Jose Mercury News story about the CIA's sale of pure cocaine in LA, which preciptated the national crack cocaine epidemic. You've heard that the story didn't "hold up under scrutiny", right? A BIG lie, perpetrated by the "respectable media".
We're being taken a for a ride folks, and not toward where we want to go. Read this book, and begin to wake up. But, fair warning; it will make you very angry.
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