Detecting Bull: How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in Print, Broadcast and on the Wild Web
What makes this book unique?
This is not a printed book scanned into digital form. It was designed from scratch as a multi-media book to satisfy students used to online experiences with audio and full video as well as text.
The book is easy to navigate. You'll begin with the table of contents page from which you can click on the acknowledgments, bibliography, etc. Or simply pass them by. Mouse-over any chapter and a summary will pop up as shown below.
Click on the chapter and it opens. Click on the start button of the video screen and one of your favorite comedians will spring to life and define "truthiness" for you. Each chapter begins with a numbered set of propositions to be explored. Click on any one and it will take you to the appropriate page.
If you clicked on proposition 3 above, the book jumps to the discussion of that below:
When you mouse over an image, it blows up to make it easier to see. For example, if you mouse over the cartoon, this happens:
On every page, there are at least five navigation aides. I've circled them above: 1) at the top left, you can jump to any section of the chapter. When you mouse-over the section, its label appears; 2) across the top, you can jump to any chapter by clicking on it; 3) at top right center, you can return to the "Home" page, and its table of contents, bibliography, etc.; 4) at top right, you can click forward or backward to any page in the chapter; and 5) at bottom right, you can simply turn to the next page, by clicking on the curled edge of the page.
The book is full of examples of biased -- and excellent -- journalism. The multi-media format allows you to break a television news story into parts, showing each one. Simply click on the video play button. Below the video, you'll see a transcript of the story at left and analysis at right.
The book is fully footnoted, but not in an obtrusive way. You can click on any of the blue pens (they swirl when you mouse-over them) for a full citation. The pens also lead to deeper levels of information.
Many of the citations contain clickable links (in red). If you're online, you can immediately go to the original document. We'll do that with the quote from New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt. If you click on the blue pen, you'll see the citation.
Click on the phrase in red ink, and you'll shortly see this:
Close the Web page and you'll be back on the same page in the text.
The book also features practical tools, like the bias detector:
Each question comes with a thorough explanation and examples. Simply click on the green flip pad icon. I've circled the instruction link for question 1. Click and you'll see:
There are lots of examples to illustrate each question:
You can even call up a PDF of the bias detector that you can type on and print for class assignments.
Finally, each chapter comes with a set of discussion questions and exercises designed to help students "own" the material: