How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload

By Bill Kovach; Tom Rosenstiel
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596915657, 240pp.)

Publication Date: November 9, 2010

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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, serious-minded 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—and the object for those who consume it. How do we discern what is reliable? How do we determine which facts (or whose opinions) to trust? 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.

Ways of Skeptical Knowing—Six Essential Tools for Interpreting theNews

  1. 1. What kind of content am I encountering?
  2. 2. Is the information complete? If not, what's missing?
  3. 3. Who or what are the sources and why should I believe them?
  4. 4. What evidence is presented and how was it tested or vetted?
  5. 5. What might bean alternative explanation or understanding?
  6. 6. Am I learning what I need?

About the Author

In his 50-year career, Bill Kovach has been chief of the New York Times Washington Bureau, served as editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and curated the Nieman Fellowships at Harvard University. He is founding chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists and senior counselor for the Project for Excellence in Journalism. In 2004, he was named to the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies at Middle Tennessee State University.

A journalist for more than 30 years, Tom Rosenstiel worked as chief congressional correspondent for Newsweek and as a media critic for the Los Angeles Times and MSNBC's The News With Brian Williams. His books include Strange Bedfellows and We Interrupt This Newscast. Rosenstiel is vice chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, and director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Together, Kovach and Rosenstiel have authored two books: The Elements of Journalism, winner of the 2002 Goldsmith Book Prize from Harvard University, and Warp Speed: America in the Age of Mixed Media.

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