Sources exposing The Media
I'm willing to assume that, taken one by one, most of those working in the mainstream, corporate media are nice, smart and fun to be with.  However, the overall product is one that we know distorts what is going on.  Here are some analyses.
Books

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Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
Neil Postman
Penguin Books, 1985, 160 pages.

Postman's book discusses the way that TV has altered the nature of discourse from a print metaphor to an image based metaphor.  The change means a trend away from linear construction of an argument to TV's context-free means of discourse.  With it comes shorter attention spans, jumping from one topic to another and other difficulties with understanding.

The problem isn't that TV is this way, it is, Postman argues, that this style of discourse is taking over other forms of public discourse from newspapers to books.  You can see that in the trend to shorter articles, more pictures, and having pictures tell the story.  But what happens to those things that require a sustained argument?
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The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America
Daniel J. Boorstin
Atheneum, 1971, 290 pages.

A "pseudo-event" is something like "the place where the movie Ten Commandments was really filmed" as opposed to the actual Mt. Sinai. The noted historian Boorstin discusses a series of transformations -- from News Gathering to News Making, from Hero to Celebrity, from Traveler to Tourist, and others.

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
Noam Chomsky
South End Press, 1989, 410 pages

It is often said that our media is somehow the antagonist of government officials or that it has a "liberal bias." Chomsky shows, with a multitude of examples, that in the area of foreign affairs the press' bias is much different than those assumptions. Instead by means that are technically the tactics of propaganda, (selective reporting, selective omission, endless repetition of the official government line, labeling such as who is called a "freedom fighter" and who is a "guerrilla") the mass media supports the government position and that favorable to large corporations.

We saw those same tactics at work in Kosovo, as the press told us endlessly that "there is no crack in the NATO alliance," despite the fact that both Italy and Greece had called for a bombing halt for weeks.
  Media Watch sites: places that blow the whistle on the propaganda, day by day
The Daily Howler Relentless attack on media propaganda and general stupidity. Exposes again and again the use of false quotes, double standards and other logical fallacies by the conservative media. Absolutely essential site. Especially recommended. (Up 11/16/08; posted 4/20/03)
  Media Matters for America Calls attention to the more wildly insane things the more extreme conservatives say to each other, but don't want the nation at large to hear. (Up 11/16/08; posted 5/30/04)
  Blather Watch "listening to talk radio so you don't have to..." (Up 9/20/06; posted 5/13/06)
  Institute for Public Accuracy. Lists of contacts for media responsibility. (Up 9/20/06; posted 5/30/04)
  Editor and Publisher "Covering the Newspaper industry." (Up 11/16/08)
  left i on the news "A leftwing view of the day's news and the way it's presented in the media." (Up 7/25/06)
  PressThink "Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine" (Up 9/20/06)
  FAIR Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. Assesses accuracy of media stories. Ticks off conservatives. (Up 11/16/08; posted 5/30/04)
  FactCheck A product of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the U. of Pennsylvania. Critiques claims of left and right. (Up 9/20/06; posted 8/1/04)
  Media Whores Online Accurate self-description: "Media Whores Online takes an unbiased, in-depth look at the vast myriad of whores who call themselves "journalists." MWO casts a garish spotlight on the relentless screaming heads of television, the babbling paranoids of squawk radio, and the crayon scribblings of lazy print media 'journalists.'" (Up 12/25/03)
  Romenesko "Your daily fix of media industry news, commentary, and memos." (Up 9/20/06; posted 1/6/05)
  Project Censored
Each year a group of folks centered at Sonoma State University compile a listing of the most important stories that never made the regular media. So intent is the mass media on ignoring them, that the big publications don't generally report this list, despite it fulfilling admirably their need for sensational stories. Also included are follow-ups to previous stories, and lists from other organizations of overlooked stories
(Up 9/20/06; posted 4/25/00)
  SpinSanity Not really as even handed as they claim as they are much harder in their critique of liberal sources, but is useful for their review of conservative ones. No longer updated. (Up 7/29/04; posted 2/16/03)
Periodicals
Alternative Press Review. "Your guide beyond the mainstream." Too many "zines" whose claim to fame is being gross, but many, many valuable sources.
Columbia Journalism Review. If you think that it is only radicals who critique the media, you should read their own publication. Monthly awards of "darts" and "laurels" for bad and good efforts, analytical articles about trends in the media, and, don't forget, their "lower case" section with unintentionally funny headlines. (Example: "Man's Body Found in Car Trunk: Foul Play Is Suspected.")
Extra! The Magazine of FAIR.
Review of media follies by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. (Up 1/26/00.)
Brill's Content. I can't make up my mind about this one. On the one hand their mission is great: to go beneath the surface of the mass media and explore just how accurate they are. On the other hand, they resort to trivializing the stories sometimes as well. The most chilling thing about this is all the quotes from journalists who, when caught in some inaccuracy, indicate clearly that they just don't care. "I don't want to get into an analysis of the accuracy of that," is one quote I've read here more than once,. "I think the story reported a larger truth," is another.
Web sites
Antiwarposters Rousing and very funny send ups of the super-patriot oppression that Ashcroft and co. are about. (Up 5/13/06, posted 6/13/03)
Last modified 11/16/08; posted 4/13/00; original content © 2008, 2000 John P. Nordin