My book was published by Prometheus Books two years ago, but the subjects of the book, including fake news, media bias, advocacy journalism, and media literacy continue to be in the news on a daily basis. With the midterm elections coming up, we are likely to be bombarded by fake news and memes on our social media, either from Russian bots and trolls seeking to mislead or divide us or from people who post fake news just to make money from clicks on their websites. As news consumers, we need to verify the information that we receive. I think and hope that readers will use my book in a way that helps them do this.
Larry Atkins Tells Us “Why I wrote Skewed”
There are many reasons why I decided to write my book Skewed: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Media Bias. I have an interest in advocacy journalism, but the topic of media bias has risen significantly over the last 25 years, especially with advocacy journalismoutlets emerging like conservative talk radio, FOX News, MSNBC, conservative and liberal political websites, and blogs. I’ve taught Journalism at Temple University and Arcadia University for nearly 15 years. We would always have class discussions on media bias, and I found that students were interested in that topic. Many hadn’t been exposed to advocacy journalism in which the host or reporter is opinionated and uses their reporting to advance an agenda, and they found it interesting.
I also wanted to give readers the tools and information on how they could be media savvy in this confusing media landscape. They need to rely on reliable, authoritative sources for information and should have a healthy skepticism about information that their relatives and friends share on their social media. I also wanted the readers to appreciate and recognize the difference between neutral, fair, balanced journalism and advocacy opinion journalism. It’s also important that people break out of their echo chambers and expose themselves to viewpoints that they don’t agree with in order to see what’s being discussed by the other side.
I intended my book to appeal tor a general audience. It’s been acquired by hundreds of libraries around the world and been used as university textbooks and even high school classes, but I also wrote it for the general public. In addition to receiving positive reviews and recommendations from academic outlets like The Library Journal, it’s also gotten very good reviews and comments from outlets like the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Exponent, and Broad Street Review. I tried to use relatively understandable language and think the book could help the general public understand the different types of media and the history of advocacy journalism and how it’s evolved, and how it polarizes our country. I talk about the good and the bad aspects of advocacy journalism and how it has polarized our country and then focus on the media literacy part, about how we can be more savvy news consumers.
I pitched my book to my agent Maryann Karinch at the Philadelphia Writers Conference in 2015. The timing was great due to the upcoming presidential election.