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Brooke Gladstone at Detroit Comics on Friday

Detroit Comics Book Club and WDET/101.9
Are proud to present their first live skype session
at the next Graphic Novel Book Club

Brooke Gladstone
Friday, November 11th

Once a week, journalist Brooke Gladstone can be heard reporting on the state of journalism on her radio show, On The Media. Now, the former Weekend Edition editor has a book out that asks difficult questions about the future of journalism, and then literally draws the answers out for you.

Illustrated by Josh Neufeld, Gladstone's The Influencing Machine is a comic book about the media: Who are they? What do they do? How do they affect us? Is there even a media anymore, now that anyone with a cellphone can potentially reach millions? Is objectivity even possible?

Gladstone answers that last question with a resolute "No." "Reporters can be fair," she tells NPR's Scott Simon. "But there's no way that we can divorce ourselves from the experience gleaned over a lifetime that forces us to come to certain conclusions."

More important, Gladstone says the ability to link stories to their primary sources is slowly changing the meaning of objectivity in journalism.

"People who follow the media today say that transparency and disclosure [are] the new objectivity," she says. "We don't have to pretend to be a monastic order of passionless priests in order to do the job of journalism."
Gladstone says the idea of a monolithic media that would uphold values like objectivity is yet another myth of the trade. Media, she says, only really exist in our heads — "That's the influence machine."

The New Media Of Citizen Journalism
The definition of media becomes even more confusing when you consider the number of nonprofessionals who are dabbling in digital journalism. Gladstone says social media users are stepping in to help filter the seemingly infinite amount of information available online — and they're doing it free from the oversight of huge media institutions.

The Endurance Of 'Great Journalism'
Despite all the dreary predictions out there, Gladstone sees journalism as being in a state evolution, rather than a state of decline. "Just because you get a paycheck doesn't necessarily mean that you are more trustworthy than somebody who is there out of conviction. And I think that is a change that is being wrought by the digital age," she says. "Objectivity ... is kind of a construct of a particular time and place, a short period of American history. Great journalism was done then, but great journalism was done before and great journalism will be done after.