Book Review: #Newsfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will

New generations, rise up, take to the streets, the world is yours, change it! 
Patti Smith

Newsfail by Jamie Kilstein
#Newsfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will by Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny is the book that centers around the authors’ independent, user supported radio news show and the authors’ view of the world. Jamie Kilstein is a comedian who idolized Jon Stewart in Stewart’s early days. Allison Kilkeny majored in English at Illinois State University before moving to New York City. Together they host Citizen Radio a news broadcast where Noam Chomsky’s philosophy of the Responsibility of Intellectuals is taken very seriously.

The book opens with a prologue and an introduction to get the reader caught up on who Allison and Jamie are and what Citizen Radio is and where it came from. Jamie and Allison are true liberals and by that I do not mean they do not fall into clean American political labels. American politics, especially in a presidential year, compares very closely to the Super Bowl. You are either for one team/party or the other there is no third choice. The American mindset works as follows if you are not a Republican you are a Democrat. If you are not a Democrat, you are a Republican. It’s that simple to most Americans. What else the Super Bowl has is commercials, and both team’s supporters love the commercials. American media can be compared to the commercials. It appeals to both sides, and the outcome of the game not really mattering in their ability to exist or more importantly make a profit. They want to make a profit so they appeal to the largest group of people possible, and do not to uphold that mythical belief that “people need to hear the truth”.

Citizen Radio and #Newsfail upholds that deeper, old fashioned journalism and not the sanitised newscasts of today. With no corporate sponsors, they are free to broadcast without fear of losing their big financial supporters. They report the stories that so called liberal media misses or misrepresents For example, in the chapter about our rape culture, legitimate rape, real rape, and those poor boys in Steubenville, Ohio who raped a girl, and became the center of the story. Other news networks reported the boys had so much promise and now all that will be gone because they are going to jail. What will be the lasting effect on these boys of having to serve a juvenile sentence. That was reported, in that tone on CNN, supposedly a bastion of liberalism. Forget the victim, let’s focus on the “other victims”, the ones who committed and recorded the sexual assault. Liberal media is not so much liberal, but corporate.

#Newsfail examines several issues that the authors feel are being under reported, misreported, or simply ignored. They also let in on their personal story to let the reader know they are not discontent rich kids or doing this as a some cool hipster trend. They believe in what they do, and they are articulate, funny, serious, sarcastic, and thought provoking. In addition to climate change, feminism, gun control, the other fun stuff includes class warfare, Occupy Wall Street, human rights, foreign policy, and veganism.

The chapters are organized by subject and topic and are all self contained. The writing is clear, concise, and serves a purpose. There is a lacing of profanity in the book, not just for profanity sake, but it may be the first time I have ever heard the reference “Noam F**king Chomsky.” An interesting aspect of the writing style is that Jamie and Allison refer to themselves in the third and second person, or simply “the authors.” When either one (or perhaps they both worked through every story), is writing, telling a story, or making a point, it is difficult who is speaking. It almost seems as the book is being reported in real time from a third party. It is an interesting format and seems to add to the book.

For the record, I do find many of the points made in #Newsfailvalid and the support for the arguments very well done. However, I am probably  not the typical Citizen Radio fan. I had already voted for Reagan and enlisted in the Marines around the time the authors were being born. Agree with their politics or not, there is something positive about the younger generation (I never thought I would ever say that phrase) standing up and doing something. Not just falling unquestioningly into the rank and file. What makes a democracy work is opposition. It makes people think. We used to count on the media to report, investigate, and expose wrongdoing. Today media is more concerned about it’s sponsors, entertaining, and not offending the hand that feeds them. #Newsfail and Citizen Radio will probably not become the standard news source, but it may provide the pressure and the need for change. All it really takes it for people to take notice and think. #Newsfail is a very good start.

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