Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review: It's Not News, It's Fark by Drew Curtis

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Title: It's Not News, It's Fark
Author: Drew Curtis, Founder of Fark. Com
Rating: 5/10
Publication Year:2007
Borrowed from the Library
Similar Books: I Am America and So Can You by Stephen Colbert, America: The Book by Jon Stewart, Bias: A CBS INsider Exposes How the Media Distort the News by Bernie Goldberg

The above video is The Daily Show's spoof of CNN's best political news team. The sensationalist nature of the news and their hilarious overuse of graphics is always a target for television's number one fake news show (okay, number two. I love The Colbert Report!).

More criticism of the mainstream news comes from It's Not News, It's Fark: How Mass Media Tries To Pass Off Crap As News by Fark.com founder, Drew Curtis. If you like The Daily Show, you will probably enjoy this book.

Fark.com began as a site where people shared absurd or unusual news stories. It eventually grew to play a role in the mainstream media itself- stories submitted to Fark.com get a lot of hits, and radio and tv stations often refer to the site when looking for interesting news to share.

In the book, Curtis uncovers the not-so-subtle ways the 24 hour news networks search out meaningless stories. He criticizes them for fear-mongering, advertising and contradicting themselves when they should be reporting the news. Fark is divided into 8 sections where actual stories are given as examples, followed by comments from the site (so funny).

My favorite chapter is "Headline Contradicted By Actual Article"
Actual Headline: DNA Hints At Jill the Ripper
Actual Article: The results are inconclusive, and furthermore this article should have been about the testing procedure and not a different overhyped conclusion.
Apparently, the body of the article let it slip that the DNA sample was "so old, very small and poorly preserved" that they really couldn't come to a conclusion. It's speculation--but the headline doesn't say that. It doesn't take a careful reader to find something like that and it makes you wonder about the modern attention span.

I also like the "Media Fearmongering" chapter and "Equal Time for Nutjobs"- the last is a pet peeve of mine.

This book was published in 2007, the media still does the same crap, but it felt dated because of several pop culture references.

In the epilogue, Curtis points out that the media does what it does because people demand it.
We read this stuff, watch it, lend credence to things that, on second thought, are totally stupid and while you can say that a select group or organization like a news station needs reform, what can you do when an entire culture begs for it?

I liked this book,the way I like some of those extra-long, witty comments that intelligent trolls post on Youtube videos and online articles- it's funny and I agree with it but I won't re-read it.


YogaforCynics said...

It really says something that Stewart and Colbert have become the most trustworthy names in news...but they are.

sharazad said...

I guess more people are noticing how absolutely absurd all mainstream news outlets can be.

And yet I still watch all of the 24 hour news networks. There's a part of me that still believes I will learn something...it's the same part of me that feels pity for Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.