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It's Not News, It's Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap As News Hardcover – May 31, 2007

4 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The editorial principle behind Curtis's Web Site Fark.com is remarkably simple: readers submit news stories with their own wacky headlines, inviting snarky commentary from other readers. Here, he steps back to examine why "Mass Media" keeps churning out the sort of inane stories that are "supposed to look like news" that make the site so wildly popular. The critique is familiar—see Barry Glassner's The Culture of Fear, among others—but Curtis delivers it with richly sarcastic humor. A section on hysteria over unlikely disasters, for example, punctures alarmist stories with one-line synopses like "Oh my God, there's bacteria on everything." Other chapters explore fake news trends, such as "Equal Time for Nutjobs," which explains how 9/11 conspiracy theories manage to get public airing, or the proliferation of nonevents that are little more than publicity stunts. But the anger behind his criticisms of media companies for producing such nonsense is defused by the acknowledgment that readers actually want to be titillated. Unfortunately, the pleasure of reading Fark.com online, where you can always add your own two cents to the conversation, doesn't always translate to the printed page; old user comments aren't so much comic relief as tacked-on disruption. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Curtis, founder of the hugely popular Web site Fark.com, recalls how and why he got the idea to feature news that is really "Not News." The genesis for the site was correspondence Curtis exchanged with a friend he'd met while living in England; much of it was trading odd news stories. On a whim, in 1997 he registered the domain name Fark.com while he pondered what to post. He decided to use the site as a clearinghouse for odd bits of news and commentary by contributors. Curtis includes excerpts from Fark.com--searching for modern descendents of Genghis Khan, tools Britons use for flossing--and biting commentary on modern news gathering, which Curtis complains has grown inane under the pressure of a 24/7 news cycle. Among his criticisms: canned seasonal stories, out-of-context celebrity comments, articles that are actually advertisements, and headlines that contradict articles. What's most fun about Fark.com, which is used by radio DJs and commercial news outlets, is its rewritten headlines and streaming commentary. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; DIAF edition (May 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592402917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592402915
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,891,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really started out liking this book. The guy is right about the fake news stories, the filler and the crap in the news. I was reading this thing and enjoying the heck out of it. Its an okay read. But as I got deeper in the book I got bored as once you understand the crap thats out there it doesnt matter much what 'type' it is. But my hats off to the guy for creating a business out of this nonsense. Its fun and interesting ... to a point.
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Format: Hardcover
If you have little idea how the media works, and often wonder why Paris Hilton is given the "Breaking News" treatment while child soldiers in Uganda are buried on CNN's website, this is a good introduction. Much of the news is built on gimmicks that work to get said medium (TV, newspaper, radio, internet, etc) more eyeballs, more ratings, and more ads dollars. Here, Drew Curtis is on solid ground when he exposes he gimmickery involved in modern news media -- and often how shameless it is.

However, after awhile the format of the book sinks into a rut. Silly abuse after silly abuse is shown -- along with Farker's comments. It's not that they are bad, but rather they usually follow a pattern of having little to do with the issue at hand. Rather, they come off like Leno's late-night jokes - sometimes really funny, sometimes really dumb. After awhile, you get the hint. For someone who is first looking into media criticism (beyond accusations of bias and 'corporate' control), this is a good place to start getting your bearings. Otherwise, the aformentioned Neil Postman book is probably a good companion or substitute.

Still, this is a good place to start for everyone who has watched the nightly news and said to yourself "this isn't news." You're not alone.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a rare, and wonderful, combination of hilariously funny and thought-provoking. Curtis' media analysis is dead-on (personal favorites: "Equal Time for Nutjobs" and "Proximity to NY/LA/Atlanta.") Anyone who pays even the slightest bit of attention to the news should read this book -- you will see things differently afterward. Among other things, you'll realize that a lot of the people quoted in articles on scientific studies as "opposing viewpoints" actually have no idea what the hell they're talking about. Plus you'll laugh out loud a lot.

Don't think you have to be familiar with the website to like the book -- I'd never been to fark.com before I discovered the book in the Nashville airport.

And I disagree with the PW review: The fark.com comments do add to the book, adding another layer of analysis and a lot of humor.

If you're looking for a fun read that opens your eyes to news you read every day, this one's for you.
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Format: Hardcover
This book's entertaining as a look into the types of stories that get recycled, hyped unnecessarily, etc. by major news outlets. But it's not sure whether it wants to be a "best of wacky Fark highlights" collection or a substantive critique of the state of news...the author even mentions trying to decide which area to focus on, before choosing both.

The result is an unfocused book. The anecdotes (most of the book) are interesting enough but grow repetitive, and the critique of news (a subject in which the author is really very qualified to comment on) is more shrill and snarky than reasoned. A late chapter briefly suggests fixes for the broken state of news; that's more of what I'd have liked to read, but right when it got going, then it was over.

A quick, fun read, but not as substantive as it might have been.
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Format: Hardcover
The Fark.com website is a hilarious indictment of the ridiculousness and uselessness of Mass Media, and this here book is meant mostly for laughs. (Solid in-depth critiques of stupid news, usually with a focus on corporate/advertiser pressure, are easily found elsewhere.) On the good side, Drew Curtis has some pretty good insights on why news is so dumb these days, from the perspective of the informed outside observer. Good examples are his solid hatchet jobs on news coverage of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction or Dick Cheney's face shooting incident. Curtis also has a pretty well-considered closing chapter on how Mass Media is failing in light of the Internet, shooting down the old boys who continue to live with their heads in the sand.

But Curtis keeps falling back into thin examples of ridiculous stories that amount to little more than a boring list. There is also a lot of unintentional irony here, as Curtis is guilty of many of weaknesses that he sarcastically condemns from Mass Media. For example, he blasts mainstream journalists for a lack of fact-checking. But here he states that Alexander Hamilton is on the $20 bill; and says he was in middle school when Johnny Carson left his show (1992) after earlier saying several times that he was in college in the early 90s. Also, Curtis slams journalists for pasting old material into new stories to take up space. But a large amount of space in this book is pasted submissions from the Fark.com message board. A few of these are surprisingly insightful but most are the cheeky pseudo-commentary that you'd expect.

This book is still good for laughs as you read about instances of stupid journalism from lazy journalists.
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