Sound-expert Schwartz, creator of prize-winning radio and TV spots, is also a professor of telecommunications (at New York...


MEDIA: The Second God

Sound-expert Schwartz, creator of prize-winning radio and TV spots, is also a professor of telecommunications (at New York Univ.) and a McLuhanite; here, except for some pointers on media ad campaigns, he could be delivering a series of Sunrise Semester lectures for out-of-touch oldsters. First come some thoughts from the Master on the power of the electronic media--but where McLuhan is pithy (""the global village""), Schwartz is prolix (""We can talk to virtually anyone anywhere by telephone, and to anyone and everyone everywhere if we have access to radio and television. Any man, woman, or child on earth can hear you as if you were in the same room with them""). We hear again about the difference between the printed word (""perceived"" media) and the spoken word (""received"" media), about the ""new dimensions in study, meaning, and content"" made possible by replay. Oddly, though, much of what Schwartz cites is off the mark. True, millions wanted to know who shot Dallas' J.R.--but remember, once, the long-delayed nuptials of Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae? Sure, an electronic reminder of senatorial-candidate Moynihan's bellicose UN performance (""When I'm in Washington you'll know I'm there"") went over well with voters--but so, once, did ""He kept us out of war."" What's more interesting, and alarming, are Schwartz's ideas on using the media to ""go after"" people--for the public good. He describes a campaign to save New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice: ""Our commercials went after individual members of the Board of Higher Education. . . to embarrass them with their peers and their friends."" Others were directed at the mayor and the governor; they were played on stations that the targets and their associates were thought to listen to; ""within one hour of the first broadcast. . . a deputy mayor came to see me."" To Schwartz, this is using the media as a weapon against vested interests; others might consider it a form of coercion available (only) to those who have the services of a media expert. He'd also use the media ""to solve social problems""--to shame the families of criminals, as they do in ""group-oriented"" Osaka. It does give uneasy pause. Otherwise, the book is largely composed of commonplaces.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981

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