A slick and none-too-deep look by Diamond (Journalism/N.Y.U.; The Spot, 1984; Sign Off, 1982) at how the media, particularly TV, cover the news. Expanding on his work as a media columnist for New York magazine, Diamond offers a wide-ranging set of essays that tantalize with their wit and expertise yet resemble the quick- moving TV news-reports that leave out more than they include. For instance, his discussion of how the recent sale of the networks to bottom-line conglomerates has lowered news quality seems shallow compared to that offered by Ben H. Bagdikian in The Media Monopoly (revised edition, 1990—not reviewed). After exploring some consequences of the networks' lessening of their ``commitment to serious news and public affairs coverage,'' Diamond discusses the war between news anchors, fought through style, graphics, and demographics. He devotes the bulk of his study, though, to media coverage of notorious news stories and to various media slants: the Tawana Brawley case, the Central Park jogger case, media idolatry of John Gotti, media willingness to fuel political scandal, media bias toward Japan, and media praise of certainly personalities (Lee Iacocca, Jackie Kennedy, etc.) that transforms them into ``The Unknockables.'' Also discussed is the effectiveness of CNN's coverage compared to that of the networks (``CNN has in a way become `the network of record,' sensibly stressing the importance of the news rather than the star appeal of the messenger''). Well written and lively, but lacking profundity and a skeptical edge.
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