W. Joseph Campbell

Getting It Wrong update: Page proofs in

In Debunking, Media myths on December 27, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Page proofs of Getting It Wrong, my forthcoming book on media-driven myths, arrived just before Christmas.

The pages look handsome. They’re set in a Sabon typeface, which stands out nicely. Especially attractive are the all-cap subhedes, as are the chapter headings. The chapter-opening epigrams (e.g., “Accurant reporting was among Katrina’s many victims”) are set off well, too.

It’s a very appealing package.

The page proofs are due back to the publisher, University of California Press, by January 21.

If all goes as planned, Getting It Wrong should be out in May.

FAQs about the book are available here and here.

“Media-driven myths,” by the way, are well-known stories about and/or by the news media that are widely believed and often retold but which, on close inspection, prove to be apocryphal or wildly exaggerated.

They are dubious tales that often promote misleading interpretations of media power and influence.

They can be thought of as the “junk food of journalism.”

Media-driven myths arise from a variety of sources—including a tendency to believe the news media are very powerful and sometimes even dangerous forces in society.

Media myths also are appealing because they offer simplistic answers to complex issues. Stories that are too good—too delicious—to be checked out can become media myths.

Those three factors—media power, simple answers to complex questions, and a sense of being too good not to be true—help explain the emergence and tenacity of one of the most famous media myths—the purported vow of William Randolph Hearst to “furnish the war” with Spain.

That anecdote is rich, telling, and delicious—and fits well with the image of Hearst as an unrestrained war-monger. But it’s almost certainly apocryphal, as is discussed in Chapter One of Getting It Wrong.

WJC

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