You Are What You Read from author, researcher, and public speaker Jodie Jackson challenges our preconceived notions about the nature of modern media and the effect it has on its consumers. She approaches the subject from what will rate as a contentious angle, not aggressive, but one capable of provoking a pushback from some readers. Jackson writes in clear and concise language rather than dragging readers down with a stiff academic heavy tone. Many readers will appreciate the personalized slant she takes with the writing. I think You Are What You Read makes larger points about human nature, media mass conditioning, and how these forces shape our trajectory.
She establishes that personalized voice from the outset with an account of her gradual awakening to this issue before launching into the book full on. Early portions grapple with what media consumers are dealing with today and how it manifests itself. Jackson writes well and in great detail about the role our perception plays shaping how we digest information. She contends headlines, word choices, and visual representations of the information can alter what we glean from news reporting and makes a convincing argument for its truth.
She acknowledges the role unconscious bias in an “observer”, reporter, correspondent, et al, can play in a story’s presentation and how the profit-driven nature of modern news reporting has corrupted agendas. To crib from a section title in the book, bad news sells and Jackson provides probing writing exploring the issue rather than glossing over the subject.
This is characteristic of the book as a whole. Jackson, appropriately for a book calling for nothing less than an across the board remaking of modern media, never lays out her argument for what is wrong without prescribing specific avenues of redress. She advocates a studious eye turned towards balance. There is no need to eliminate distressing news from our diet but, rather, put solutions-oriented news reporting on the same footing rather than gorging our appetites for impending or future disaster.
I think it is impressive how much detail and intellectual force she brings to bear over a digital edition amounting to less than 200 pages of actual content. It is clear Jackson has turned this topic inside out over years, fielded passionate debates with others on the issue, and has researched the subject on a scale the notes for this book hint at. You Are What You Read is an interesting experience for me, if for no other reason, than I read the book and found myself often nodding and muttering “yes” along the way.
It has the uncanny ability to voice what you’ve been feeling and experiencing all along watching and reading the news. Jodie Jackson has identified one of the most crucial issues dictating how we see the world and appreciates the size of the problem rather than giving its significance short shrift. It makes her authorial voice all the more authoritative and places You Are What You Read among one of the best volumes on modern media available today.