Wednesday May 22, 2013
Op-Ed: How to Know What's True In Age of Information OverloadHenry Clay Ruark Salem-News.com
Pragmatic, Serious, Sensible Guiding Steps To Navigating Blur of 21st-Century Media Terrain.
(SEASIDE, Ore.) - Seldom, these days,. do I ever find any book, even the most professional-level ones, of such overriding importance that it requires me to write essentially a book-report in place of mine own "informed opinion" as an Op Ed.
But it does still happen --very occasionally indeed.
This one is simply titled "BLUR".
That one-word title truly characterizes the universal and ubiquitous general feeling inevitable for most of us facing the frustrating --sometimes even infuriating-- task of making common sense about the encompassing "blur" in which we find ourselves when contemplating --as responsible citizens surely must-- the onrushing near-tsunami/depth and impact of the now well/recognized "information overload", from which we are entirely unable to escape these days.
The second cover-headline further reveals what the nature --and the great realistic accomplishment, too-- of this thin-but-mighty book does for every serious reader:
"How to know what's true in the age of information overload".
The book is:
BLUR; Bill Kovach, Tom Rosenstiel; Bloomsbury USA, 2010, 225pp; and Its
ISBN is 978-1-59691-565-7.
Together, previously, they published "The Elements of Journalism" and "Warp Speed".
Kovach has been chief of the Washington bureau, New York Times, Editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Director of the Nieman Fellowship Foundation at Harvard, and is founding chairman of Committee of Concerned Journalists and senior counselor for the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Rosenstiel has an illustrious thirty years in the profession, as media critic for the Los Angeles Times, chief Congressional correspondent for Newsweek, and founder (1996) of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, among other challenging and shaping assignments,
The two authors are probably the only two long-career journalists in our nation who, together, could produce such an insightful, sensitive and sensible handbook for ready and rapid reference to the changing patterns of the realistic sources for "news" --read: essential information-- open to most persons these days:
Our sometimes distorted and manipulated mainstreamer dailies, our overwhelming crowd of constantly changing magazines and journals, and unavoidably the Internet --the wellspring and streaming source of much mis- and disinformation at recognized readinesss for too-easy, too-constant, too-everything involving the open communication this new Century surely doth demand.
That, friends, is a very large promise. Only someone who has personally and professionally attempted to breast that overwhelming tide, driven by the inescapable driving motivations of managing its meanings and then summarizing and analyzing those meanings for a demanding public, could contemplate risking the difficulties and dangers of such a task --much less reporting in helpful detail and useful patterns and approaches for serious readers.
Yet that is precisely what this masterwork for your shelf does accomplish, in such chapters as these:
3. The Way of Skeptical Knowing: The Tradecraft of Verification.
4. Completeness:What is Here and What is Missing.
5. Sources: Where did This Come From ? (HCR: "and WHY" !!).
6. Evidence and the Journalism of Verification.
7. Assertion, Affirmation: Where's the Evidence ?
among others; and finally, with extreme prescience, an Epilogue, crowning this very special achievement with "The New Way of Knowing".
Throughout each of its very practical sections this book provides not only extremely informative and highly useful "insider"-examples --story/content analyses, incidents, quotes and the reasons for them-- but the authors share their mutual massive knowledge of the working tradecraft they have accumulated in their various and adventurous careers.
American journalism is alive-and-well, despite many declarations of its arrived-or-coming death, sure to be extremely detrimental to our conception and fragmentary practice of true democracy.
With the streaming flow of information now making it imperative for each of us to be our own editor and to make running judgments long demanded only of practicing journalists, this slim volume may well be our best possible ticket to those choices fundamental for our own lives in this new 21st Century.
Per our long-practice here at Salem-News, seek it out for "see with own eyes, judge with own mind". Find it at the library, skim it at the bookstore, check it out on Amazone via Internet; but do not miss contact with its insightful, sensitive and sensible information and methods.
You will be first amazed, then gratified you did; and then, surely, much better qualified to cope with that onrushing, overwhelming tide of information-flow we all must face today.
At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bangor, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering the upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.
Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed. degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education, where he served as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for ten years.
He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 560 written since then.
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