Book Reports, Portfolio

News Flash: Journalism, Infotainment, and the Bottom-line Business of Broadcast News (Book Report)

Cheran Jacob Ratnam

News Flash: Journalism, Infotainment, and the Bottom-line Business of Broadcast News

By Bonnie Anderson

February 18, 12


In her book, News Flash: Journalism, Infotainment, and the Bottom-line Business of Broadcast News, author Bonnie Anderson depicts the controversial state of modern journalism. She describes the controversial trends in vivid detail as a “systematic shift from responsible journalism to infotainment” (Colowick, 2004).


Bonnie Anderson’s experience as a former vice president of recruiting for CNN and a print reporter at NBC news- along with over twenty years of experience in the field allows her to draw compelling examples to support her cause of demanding honest and fair news reporting (Colowick, 2004). The author’s first hand experiences and exposure to controversial issues enhances her ability to persuade the reader with credibility.


The book’s nine chapters and the conclusion are filled with statistics and quotations from interviews, speeches and conversations. The author uses this information effectively and creatively to convey her dismay, while informing the reader of the controversial state of broadcast journalism. Her writing is compellingly charismatic and provocative.


Anderson consistently questions reporting practices of major news corporations. When discussing the validity of certain live interviews, she poses the question of trust from an ethical standpoint: “But are these practices, at the end of the day, all bad? While they might make the lives of reporters and photographers easier, they deceive viewers. If we’re not honest about something so basic, how can we expect the public to believe us on more major issues?” (Anderson, 2004, p. 100)


In the article, The Precarious State of Television News, author Rebecca MacKinnon states that she agrees with Anderson regarding the controversial ideals of CNN and confirms the money seeking infotainment ideals of CNN described in Anderson’s book. Furthermore, MacKinnon also states that Anderson fails to recognize the advancing technological changes that continue to change and invent media. She also points out that journalists’ would not be able to recreate the idealized form of journalism, mainly due to the ever-evolving technological influences.


The author provides many examples of questionable reporting practices of major news corporations such as CNN, NBC and FOX. Through the use of numerous examples of discrimination and malpractice, the author emphasizes the urgent need for change. The book also sheds light into what it is like to be a journalist working for corporations that compromises ethics in order to harvest profits. Furthermore, she emphasizes the ethical responsibility of a journalist over and over again throughout her book.


Over all, the book contains valuable insight for students that are interested in broadcast journalism. One could become overwhelmed by the author’s repetitiveness due to the high volume of examples provided throughout the book. The author paints a rather negative picture of news corporations and their hidden motives, while encouraging the reader to stand up for true journalism.

References (APA 6th Edition)

Anderson, B. (2004). News Flash : Journalism, Infotainment, and the Bottom-line

Business of Broadcast News. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (US).

Anderson, B. M. (2004). Journalism’s Proper Bottom Line. Nieman Reports, 58(4), 51.

Anne Beck.  (2005, October). An Age-Old Problem. Broadcasting & Cable, 135(44), 12-

13.  Retrieved February 20, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 920440401).

Colowick, S. M. (2004). News Flash: Journalism, Infotainment, and the Bottom-Line

Business of Broadcast News (Book). Library Journal, 129(11), 79.

MacKinnon, R. (2005). The Precarious State of Television News. Nieman Reports,

59(1), 88-90.

Book Reports, Portfolio

Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards (Book Report)

Cheran Ratnam

Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards

February 11, 2012

Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards is a brief yet colorful biography of the prominent broadcast journalist Edward Murrow. As Cressman (2006) describes, “Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism is a sort of broadcast version of Murrow’s life story, complete with sound bites and written in the conversational style that evokes for the reader Edwards’s familiar baritone” (p. 160).

The author, Bob Edwards is a former NPR Morning Edition host. According to Cressman (2006), “Edwards writes with the authority of someone who knew Murrow” (p 160).” Even though the author never knew Murrow personally, he was a student of Ed Bliss Jr., who wrote for Murrow while serving at CBS as an editor. The author acknowledges that he acquired most of the information about Murrow from Ed Bliss Jr. through conversations that spanned over thirty years.

The book contains the highlights of Murrow’s career as a journalist. The ten chapters chronologically outlines Murrow’s rather adventurous and extensive carrier. The Inclusion of Murrow’s broadcast reports word for word bring life to Murrow’s charismatic character, while adding flavor to the narrative. As Smith, D (2004) points out; the author firmly points out Murrow’s desire to use television and radio as promoters of education throughout the book.

Edward Murrow holds a heroic status in this narrative. The great dangers Murrow faced in Europe during his World War II coverage aids the author in painting a picture of a die-hard reporter. Murrow’s deadly encounters during the war described in vivid detail keeps the reader in a state of awe. The author tries to engage the reader furthermore by shedding light into Murrow’s personal and family affairs.

In the article ‘The Man Who Invented Truth’: The Tenure of Edward R.

Murrow as Director of the United States Information Agency During the Kennedy Years, Cull, N.J (2003) discusses controversial issues that surround Murrow. Here, the author tries to present controversial issues in an unbiased manner, while focusing on presenting factual information to the reader.

The reports and direct quotes of Murrow speeches included in the book enables the reader to engage with Murrow’s personal interpretation of media. Murrow criticized his contemporary media saying “I would like television to produce some itching pills rather than this endless outpouring of tranquilizers..” (Edwards, B 2004, p. 134). Here, we see a summary Murrow’s dissatisfaction of how popular media used its influence.

When I picked this book I was not aware of the iconic status Edward Murrow held in broadcast journalism. Here, the author provides a concise account of an influential contributor of broadcast journalism. Historical events such as World War II, the Cuban missile crisis and the red scare surround the tale of this passionate journalist.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in news media because of the inspiration one can derive from Murrow’s fearless passion for reporting.

Broadcast journalism has come a long way since Edward Murrow. However, the importance of Murrow and his ideals are impossible to ignore if one were to dig into the history of broadcast journalism. Bob Edward’s attempt at capturing the role of Murrow in shaping broadcast journalism has produced a delightful book packed with history, passion and charisma.



Achter, P. J. (2004). TV, technology, and McCarthyism: crafting the democratic

renaissance in an age of fear. Quarterly Journal Of Speech, 90(3), 307-326. doi:10.1080/0033563042000255534

Cressman, D. L. (2006). REVIEW AND CRITICISM: BOOK REVIEW—Edward R.

Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 50(1), 160-161. doi:10.1207/s15506878jobem5001_9

Cull, N. J. (2003). ‘The Man Who Invented Truth’: The Tenure of Edward R.

Murrow as Director of the United States Information Agency During the Kennedy Years. Cold War History, 4(1), 23-48.

Edwards, B. (2004). Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism. John

Wiley & Sons, Inc. (US).

Smith, D. (2004). Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism (Book).

Library Journal, 129(8), 122.

Book Reports, Portfolio

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (Book Report)

Cheran Jacob Ratnam

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

February 26, 12

Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel and Dimed, takes the modern day human on a much-needed journey to places that some people only take when comfortably staring at a flat screen television at their own convenience. The average low-income workers become stars in this experimental journey, to explore low-income survival techniques.

A celebrated author, with a PhD in Biology decided to disguise herself as a low-income worker, to explore how she could survive on the wages earned from the available low-income jobs, from Florida to Maine. The author shares a fraction of the reality of those who are forced to drive through life in poverty. The author also describes how she had ensured protection throughout this journey, which is a privilege those who actually live through these circumstances do not have.

However, she is able to paint a picture of the material reality of low-income workers through her personal experience of living on the limited possibilities available to a white-female-American in this cross section of underrepresented society. In a way, the author decided to play the role of a typical low-income worker, in order to explore what it feels like to actually live this role in real life.

The author’s method of immersing into her subjects’ reality in order to capture experiences is a commonly shared fantasy. However, those who fantasize, always fantasizes grandeur and luxury, rather than living on dimes. Thus, the author is appealing to those that tend to forget about the poor, caught in a race to be the biggest hoarder.

She describes her experience of being a low-income worker saying, “It’s not just the work that has to be learned in each situation. Each job presents a self-contained social world, with its own personalities, hierarchy, Customs, and standards” (Ehrenreich, 2002, p 194).

Author Casson. J expresses her view of the book in her article as follows: “Her experiences and observations shed needed light on this important yet neglected segment of the workforce. They also make it difficult not to be sympathetic to the struggle and supportive of efforts to improve the life of the working poor” (Casson, 2002). Here, Casson gives an un-biased opinion of the book, which states its strengths and weaknesses.

The book takes the reader on a journey. For those who have worked similar jobs, taking this journey may result in an unpleasant reminder that may emphasize the need for a reality check. For those who have had the privilege of not having to experience life in the shoes of a low-income worker, this book may seem fictional. Either way, the author’s adventurous experiment, recorded in vivid detail is alarmingly though provoking. This book is a great read for those interested in Journalism as well as social sciences.


Casson, J. J. (2002). Nickel and Dimed (Book). American Economist, 46(1), 78.

Daniel, L. (2001). Nickel and dimed: on (not) getting by in America. Christian

Century, 118(22), 30-31.

David Ng.  (2006, October 18). Nickel and Dimed. The Village Voice,p. 135.  Retrieved

February 25, 2012, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1157094581).

Ed Kaufman.  (2002, September). ‘Nickel and Dimed’. Hollywood Reporter, 375, 24.

Retrieved February 25, 2012, from Research Library. (Document ID: 279857721).

Ehrenreich, B. (2002). Nickel and Dimed. Holt Paperbacks.

Munoz, R. A. (2005, January). ‘Nickel and Dimed’. Clinical Psychiatry News, 33(1), 83.

Retrieved from

Book Reports, Portfolio

Tech Savvy?

Cheran Ratnam

Journalism next: A practical guide to digital reporting and publishing

Mark Briggs

April 1, 2012

Tech Savvy?

“What do you do?” is a very common question I get these days, especially given that I have to catch up with old friends as well as make new ones. Most of the time I give a generic answer like “I am in graduate school”. I get mixed reactions when I tell people that I am doing a master’s in journalism. Some ask me with a frown, “What do you hope to do with that?”

I have started to notice a pattern in these conversations regarding my choice of majoring in Journalism. Often, I find myself trying to defend my choice against gloomy attitudes people express about the future of journalism. In his book, Journalism next: A practical guide to digital reporting and publishing, author Mark Briggs attempts to encourage current journalists as well as students by giving a positive outlook on the future of journalism.

The author addresses the issues of the gloomy out look that surrounds journalism and provides advice and motivation by encouraging journalists to embrace new technology in what he considers to be an evolutionary stage in journalism. The author is a former interactive news manager for the Tacoma News Tribune, and a Ford Fellow in entrepreneurial journalism at the Poynter Institute. (

“Eleven chapters appear in three parts or units. Basics include the role of web workers, advanced blogging, crowd-powered collaboration, microblogging, and going mobile. Multimedia turns to visual storytelling with photographs, making audio journalism visible, and telling stories with video. Finally, editing and decision making adds three final chapters on data-driven journalism, managing news as a conversation, and building a digital audience for news” (8. JOURNALISM. 2010)

The author provides valuable insight on a variety of tools that can be useful for journalists. His ability to relate to varying age groups and experience levels enables the reader to realize the knowledge that one might already posses and helps find ways to better one’s journalistic effectiveness. “Twitter is the most popular microblogging service. In fact, the platform is so popular that probably more people have heard of Twitter than have heard the term “microblogging” (Briggs, M. 2009 p 95).

The book can be used as a useful resource for those who aspire to become tech Savvy. The author gives basic step-by-step directions and suggestions on how to improve one’s online presence in the ever-changing arena of social media. The simple language and the easy to use structure of the book add to the value of the book’s use as a comprehensive handbook for digital journalism.

It can be said that one can get a startup crash course in digital journalism from reading the book. However, it has the potential to be out dated, given the rapid technological change that we are experiencing today. The author provides the old-fashioned journalists ample encouragement and evidence to start using the freely available online tools to keep up with a tech savvy generation.

While most of the information and the tools discussed were nothing new to me, I admire the level of journalistic insight that the author provide when discussing the advantages of using these resources. Therefore, I would recommend this book to those who are both tech savvy as well as those who “struggle” with technology.

References: APA 6th Edition

Briggs, M. (n.d). Journalism next: A practical guide to digital reporting and publishing. United States of America: CQ Press.

BULLARD, S. (2011). Journalism Next: A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 88(1), 215-216.

Journalism Next./The Digital Journalist’s Handbook. (2010). Journalism & Mass Communication Educator,65(2), 193-195.

JOURNALISM NEXT. (2010). Quill, 98(2), 11.

8. JOURNALISM. (2010). Communication Booknotes Quarterly, 41(3), 137-141. doi:10.1080/10948007.2010.486646