The medium is the "Messages"

51UGvVk7QxL. BO2204203200 PIsitb-sticker-arrow-clickTopRight35-76 AA278 PIkin4BottomRight-6922 AA300 SH20 OU01 There was a time when network television was king and we all got together and shared dinner while watching Huntley/Brinkley or Walter Cronkite.

It was a golden age for television news and it began to fall apart as cable became more popular, CNN thrived on instant gratification and liveshots dominated everything.

The beginning of the end of the Golden Age for television news was the 1980s and it is in this wonderful decade that first time author Forrest Carr sets his fictionalized look at television news.

If “Messages” seems familiar, it is only because you’ve seen this world many times before – whether in “Network” or “Broadcast News” or several other books and movies.

Carr, a 33-year veteran of television news provides some keen insights, and some clichéd references to the mad world of television news while driving home some salient points about the medium. His fictionalized look at the world combines a buddy-cop mentality and centers on three friends as they “embark on a broadcast journalism career at a time when television was the most powerful communications medium man had ever known,” declares the author in a press release about the book.

The truth is, as a first time author, Carr’s effort has a first-time author’s problem with clunky sentence structure, too much puffery and seems to be in love with its own use of the English language.

Perhaps, though, that is a bit of parody aiming at the shallow heart of television and the strange environment where the medium is the message and reporters worry about their Gucci loafers and how their suit looks on-air.

Putting all of that aside, Carr’s novel is engrossing, fun to read and a joy to see play out to its inevitable, tragic, hilarious and scandalous conclusion.

I will give away no portion of this masterful expose of television news. I won’t deny the reader the joy of finding out for himself as self-destructive, obsessed, hilarious characters fall all over themselves in an attempt to produce the news we all can use.

For those in the business for any length of time this will be a wonderful trip down memory lane, while those who’ve never been in the business will enjoy the buddy-cop mentality, the exploration of the vicissitudes of producing the news in the 80s and the excesses of that era.

Take this book home, curl up with it on a weekend and enjoy the guilty pleasures of the 80s from the viewpoint of people who witnessed history and thought they were more important than the news they covered.

You won’t be disappointed. That’s the ultimate message of “Messages”.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

By Tim Schwartz

Literary critic


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