You'll notice that over on the left I've posted the icon for another book you can purchase through this site. Just click on the icon and you'll be taken straight to Amazon and be able to purchase the book for the same price, but still make a small contribution to this site (which would be greatly appreciated!). Bob Kohn's Journalistic Fraud is a precise, methodical, fascinating analysis of how The New York Times biased its straight news coverage between August 2002 and the end of the Howell Raines period.
Kohn is no Times hater. He begins, in fact, with a charming story of how, as a high school student in a small town, he won a year's subscription to the Times in a public speaking contest. It made the world open up to him, he says, as it will to anyone willing to sit down in the morning and read through all of the sections and learn about the world. As a conservative, and he is open about his political leanings, he eventually gave up on the editorial page, but looked forward to his morning coffee and Times as time with "an old friend." But, as for many of us, he began to feel that things were changing, not on the editorial pages but in the straight news coverage and he felt that change could be specifically marked to August of 2002.
In this book he carefully works his way through the subtle methods he argues the paper used to "spin" news coverage, through wording, placement, framing, headlines, even the use of passive voice, all techniques marshalled to spin the news and shape it to align with the positions taken by the editorial page -- most especially on the debate over the Iraq war. The chapter on the coverage of the war (where particular headlines and lead paragraphs are compared to those in other leading national papers) is particularly superb. In fact I use it in my class on Media Coverage of the War on Terror.
I'm not sure why the book did not get more attention than it did when it came out. It doesn't surprise me that it wasn't reviewed in more places, but it seemed as if it were not advertised very aggressively either. While I think (and I think many agree with me) that the Times has improved substantially under the Keller administration, I continue to use the book, and to think the book is worthwhile, because the examples are so compelling and helpful in demonstrating problems in press writing. Reading the book, I think, can help make you a savvier and more critical consumer of the media.