A useful road map for navigating the media biz.

LEAN MEDIA

HOW TO FOCUS CREATIVITY, STREAMLINE PRODUCTION, AND CREATE MEDIA THAT AUDIENCES LOVE

The recipe for success in everything from music to blogging is to be inexpensive, fast, and attentive to audiences, according to this canny primer.

Drawing on his own experience in the recording, news broadcasting, web journalism, and book publishing industries, Lamont (iPhone Basics in 30 Minutes, 2016, etc.) distills a doctrine of project management informed by the lean manufacturing and startup movements—one that takes advantage of new technologies that make professional-quality media easier to produce than ever. Instead of the “chubby approach” of rigid plans with big budgets and lavish marketing, he advocates projects run by small teams with limited funds and a more improvisatorial style. Central to his method is creating rough prototypes—demo tapes, film shorts, series pilots, stand-up jokes, novel drafts—and testing them on audiences to find out what works, then incorporating their feedback into improved versions, leading to a successful product launch. Several chapters focus on strictures of good testing, particularly the importance of identifying the right target audience. Above all, the author stresses that one must keep marketing people and corporate executives from horning in with their own misunderstandings of what the public really wants. (When the public doesn’t want a project in any form, the author sternly counsels the reader to “just put down your pen, or your keyboard or your camera, and walk away.”) Lamont illustrates these ideas with a wealth of engaging and well-chosen case studies: Led Zeppelin, whose first album was made on a shoestring with a hastily cobbled-together band and songs; The Simpsons, first incarnated in 90-second shorts for a sketch-comedy show; The Wizard of Oz, a troubled production that went through multiple directors and reshoots; and his own video software tutorials, which he sharpened with YouTube viewer-attention metrics. The author’s treatment strikes a good balance between the artistic aspect of media and the fact that creators must find consumers and revenue to make an impact. He conveys his tough-love message in clear, readable prose that gives readers a lucid template for thinking through the issues. Starry-eyed amateurs and seasoned professionals alike can profit from his insights.

A useful road map for navigating the media biz.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939924-99-5

Page Count: 223

Publisher: i30 Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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