Talking my book Race-Baiter on CNN's Reliable Sources and elsewhere provides new look at media machine
One of the interesting things about writing a book is to experience the media machine from a different side.
In publicizing my book Race-Baiter, I've spent lots of time doing interviews with all sorts of media, most recently on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday, and it's an interesting experience to see what the world makes of your creation once you release it out into the wild.
In particular, the idea I advance that the fragmented structure of media makes it easier for some outlets to make money pushing stereotypes and prejudice has been twisted a bit. For this piece in Columbia Journalism Review, the author seems to assume I was saying media covered diversity better in the era of three networks when white male anchors ruled TV news -- even though I have a full chapter in the book devoted to the quality coverage which comes from a diverse newsroom.
The biggest challenge, is trying to wrap up a book's worth of observations into bite-size appearances on TV or radio. During my Reliable Sources appearance, we spent a lot of time on my criticisms of Fox News and MSNBC, even though there's other parts of the book which talk about the election, reality TV, network TV and even talk radio.
A conversation on KGO radio in San Francisco Sunday centered on the question: Who deserves the term "race-baiter" now? (I focused on my attempt to reclaim the term for people who want to start necessary conversations about race and across race).
Earlier that day, I was interviewed by James Brown, father to former CNN and NBC anchor Campbell Brown, who was focused on political bias in news reporting, noting his daughter complained about viewers' demand for news which confirmed their politics while at CNN.
What I have learned in the last few weeks, especially from personal appearances, is that this is a conversation people are desperate to have, no matter what their political persuasion. People can sense that the boundaries of race, ethnicity and culture are shifting in America -- and some media outlets are capitalizing on that uncertainty to stoke fears and build loyalties.
So many diversity-related firsts are coming, its hard to count them: The most women in the U.S. Senate yet, a black president re-elected, the possibility of our first female secretary of defense and a country where 50,000 U.S.-born Hispanic people will turn 18 every month for the next 20 years.
Cutting through that noise is key; whether or not people agree with my conclusions, I'm hoping mostly to give people some tools to talk back to their TV, radio and Internet content, challenging some messages and better understanding others.
Best of all, I'm gaining a lot of sympathy for those whose work I have reviewed in the past.