Navigating the News
A Political Media User's Guide
by Michael Baranowski
July 2013, 173pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-0321-5
$41, £31, 36€, A56
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-0322-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.
This is the book for anyone who aspires to the title "informed citizen." It clearly explains how political news works, how the media influences readers—and how to sort through it all to be a better, smarter consumer of political news.

In a perfect world, political news would be objective and fact-based. Instead, it is biased and unreliable. This engaging book was written to help readers master the media. Combining insight and humor, it exposes the bias, irrationality, bad arguments, and misleading numbers that abound in political media. It shows readers how to take advantage of available news sources, and it guides them in developing the skills needed to sort through the flood of hype and misinformation.

Specifically, the book examines types of political media and why it matters whether one gets political news from television, radio, newspapers, or the Internet, including social media. It discusses the latest developments in political behavior, economics, media studies, and neuroscience to explain why the political media does what it does to systematically distort consumers’ view of politics—and it looks at ways consumers tend to be irrational in choosing and interpreting news. Finally, it offers concrete suggestions that will enable readers to become more critical of what they read, see, and hear.

Features

  • Shows readers how to spot bad political arguments, as well as why they should be skeptical of the "hard data" behind many of those arguments
  • Shares clear, accessible explanations of the ever-present biases that affect our view of political news
  • Offers a multitude of clear examples taken from current politics on ways in which media distorts political information and messages
  • Provides a compelling look at social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as sources of political information, how we perceive information from these venues, and how they affect our understanding of American political dialogue
Michael Baranowski, PhD, is associate professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY. His published work includes articles in a number of professional journals such as Legislative Studies Quarterly, International Journal of Public Administration, and Journal of Political Science Education. Baranowski received his doctorate in political science from the University of Kentucky.


Reviews

"In Navigating the News, Baranowski provides a scholarly, in-depth, yet also incredibly humorous and user-friendly examination of the history of the media in all its forms, its evolution and transformation, and the many ways that the media can manipulate and be manipulated in the conveyance of information. More than a simple longitudinal look at media change, Navigating the News is a handbook for academics and non-academics alike that provides an easily digestible education in the different biases in the presentation of news and the ways in which polling numbers and results can be twisted and turned, as well as tools for the reader to differentiate for themselves where issues and policy reporting may have been purposefully re-interpreted to create a very specific subliminal understanding of events. This book should be a required reader not only for secondary and higher-education students, but also for the American citizenry at-large who may be affected by the unforeseen games that the news media play."—Ryan Teten, Assistant Professor and Anthony Moroux /BORSF Endowed Professor of Political Science, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

"A handbook for responsible citizenship in the Age of Entertainment that should be required reading for every American. Synthesizing contemporary research in psychology and political science, Baranowski shows how Americans are fooled, deceived, and manipulated by the media and politicians, and what we can do about it. Laden with contemporary examples and highly accessible to non-specialists, this book is a powerful appeal to the need for critical thinking in an era of information overload. Written in a style that is informal and non-partisan, Navigating the News provides fodder for conversations about the role of media in society, the difficulty of political discourse, and the vital importance of truly informed citizens. Simultaneously simple and provocative, the lessons from this book have the potential to alter political discourse in America."—Victoria Williams, Associate Professor of Political Science, Alvernia University

"When it comes to consuming products, Americans often recognize the importance of being an informed consumer. When it comes to news consumption, however, Americans often do not have the same due diligence. We complain about news bias in sources we rarely watch while we increasingly focus on those sources that reflect our own political values and biases. Navigating the News is a consumer watchdog book that can help make almost anyone a more 'informed citizen.' The book examines why it matters where we get the news, explains the nature of bias in the media, and shows how the media influences consumers. It explains why we are often poor consumers of news. And, it offers suggestions as to how one can become a more informed consumer of the news. The author utilizes recent literature from political science, economics, media studies, and other fields to make his case. At the same time, almost anyone ought to find the presentation and arguments easy to read and enjoyable. Mixing concrete examples and a bit of humor makes the work an easy read that one will rapidly finish. It would make an excellent addition for almost any basic course on American politics or media studies. It would also be an excellent choice for anyone who wants to be an informed consumer of the news. In fact, you might want to give the book to those individuals who often irritate you with the latest 'facts' they heard on the news."—Donald A. Gross, Professor of Political Science, University of Kentucky

"This book provides a user's manual for all who want to be active, well-informed citizens in our media-saturated age. With an accessible writing style, many timely examples, and considerable wit, Baranowski leads readers on a tour of today's media landscape and provides a crash course in the logical thinking skills and statistical and numerical literacy necessary to evaluate the information and data we're barraged with on a daily basis. This is an ideal book to supplement introductory political science courses, especially those focusing on American government and media, as well as for anyone who wants to be a more sophisticated consumer of the news media."—Scott Peters, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Iowa
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