Jodie Jackson You Are What You Read: Why Changing Your Media Diet Can Change the World is a treatise of sorts about how modern mass media reports global and local events and the consequences wrought on public perception of issues as a result of that coverage. Jackson, an in-demand speaker and media theorist, approaches the issue from a psychology perspective as well as sharing meaningful experience in the journalism world further informing her ideas and opinions. Her discipline of positive psychology traffics in many concepts but most applicable to this text is the idea that a disproportionate bias favoring negative news harbors potential for damaging audiences and obscuring the good in the world we often pay little respect towards.
She includes a great of reading and research backing her claims, but one of the book’s most impressive aspects is how Jackson makes the bulk of her case through pure unquestionable reason. She does not badger and hector her readers, levy unreasonable criticisms against institutions and organizations, but rather takes on each of her arguments and any possible rebuttals with facts harnessed and consensus opinions reinforcing her point. It must be acknowledged we are often getting one side of the argument with You Are What You Read, even if she acknowledges contrary points of view, but the lack of such counter advocacy doesn’t make her any less convincing.
The book runs a little over two hundred pages in its digital edition and has easy to follow construction. There isn’t any restless shifting around. There are no extended or unexpected tangents. Jackson maintains resolute focus on the subjects of each section and doesn’t waste listeners’ time – she hones in on the key points of the issue’s many facets. Some readers will think she revisits themes a little often, restating what she’s made clear in preceding pages, but many more will read those moments like I do – Jackson attempting to reinforce her argument and point of view.
She includes an assortment of helpful “materials” or “exercises” along the way for helping media consumers avoid the damaging side effects of their news intake. Jackson, likewise, does an excellent job of detailing how the changes provoked by an altered perspective can shape our social dialogue rather miring so many in the quicksand of insignificance, fear, and paranoia. Solutions based news coverage deserves an equal share of our print, airwaves, and screen time and the lack of this element in our media consumption poses unique problems for our world this work explores in full.
Jodie Jackson’s You Are What You Read is an important social document coming along at a charged time in our national history, but reaches even further. Global media forces, more than ever before, are shaping geopolitical narrative and how we perceive the micro as well as the macro. Jackson leaves no stone unturned or corner unexplored. You Are What You Read is a first class book with an important and coherent message worthy of our consideration and further investigation. We ignore it at own peril.