Media, Society, Culture and You

Reviewed by Jared Bahir Browsh, Instructor, CU Boulder on 7/1/19

Comprehensiveness rating: 3

I thought the book does a good job generally covering the media that constitute the vast majority of consumption by audiences. The historic approach is helpful since there are a number of books that look at the “now” without touching upon the conventions and actions that have created this environment, especially with so many students thinking various issues related to the media they consume are new. The book definitely needs to be supplemented by other, more in-depth readings on certain topics, like in the television chapter there is not much on the impact of sporting or live events economically nor enough discussion on the networks and consolidation. More charts, diagrams, timelines, etc. would have added a lot as students try to grasp the issues addressed throughout the book The links helped with some of this supplementation. There was also a limited amount on issues related to representation.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

Since the approach was so broad, there was not really issues related to any facts or ideas being inaccurate, but as many have said in earlier reviews, many issues seemed to get get fairly superficial attention, so some students understanding of things like echo chambers/confirmation bias may be incomplete.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

The way the book is constructed should contribute to it having a long shelf life, especially if every few years there are minor updates to the content and the links as the technologies and understanding of these media continue to evolve. It is also broad enough that the issues and general information discussed should not change much over time. If this were a book that had more detail or were for higher level or graduate classes some of the explanations would have to be updated, but the historical and birds-eye view approach should allow it to remain relevant for a number of years.

Clarity rating: 4

The historical overviews are fairly straightforward and clear. The language is very accessible, which might make it a good text to utilize in a high school as well as an introductory course on media and society Anytime you are trying to condense complex histories there will always be portions that will be left out or lack detail. I do think a few more graphics featuring statistics or timelines would help with clearing up any possible confusion about how all of these technologies developed together, rather than in a vacuum that it sometimes seems they have by focusing each chapter on a medium. The simplicity also might students overlook the complexity of the issues and complexity discussed.

Consistency rating: 4

By having a single author the book is able to build on itself, first introducing important concepts and approaches in the first few chapters and then focusing on how they apply to each medium. It did seem like some of the earlier chapters were more comprehensive than the others, and the later portions of the book, which included newspapers, which have the longest history of any of these media, seemed to lack some of the detail that was included earlier. The links help by including outside resources, particularly from popular press, which might aid students in grasping some of these ideas.

Modularity rating: 4

Overall the book is broken down well both through the approach to the chapters and the headings, allowing the reader to understand what the focus of each section would be and how it differed from others. I did think the paragraphs could have been slightly shorter, some go on for a while which could make it tedious for students to read, especially since they are used to communication methods that require short bursts of content or text.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3

Even though I think the approach to organizing the information made sense, I did think there were points where there could have been more discussion about how these media cross over, rather than treating their development as fairly separate. I thought the bigger issue was how the chapters were ordered, with media concepts and theories coming after digital and social media, with newspapers being toward the end. With the historical nature of this, it may have helped to order them when the media was developed, so readers could better see how one impacted the others, especially since electronic media has been largely dominated by a few companies established in the first half of the 20th century.

Interface rating: 5

The actual reading experience was enjoyable. I read the online version making it easier to access the outside links and glossary.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

I did not see any significant grammatical or spelling errors.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

In terms of mainstream culture, it is a very good overview especially for students interacting with the cross section of media and culture for the first time. I thought it could have address alternative or marginalized cultures a little better, especially through links.