Book Review: "#Newsfail" by Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny

NewsfailAs the inside jacket reads, #Newsfail is a “comedic-memoir-slash-political-manifesto.” Written by the married Citizen Radio founders, Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny, #Newsfail discusses prevalent issues like global warming, gun control, mental health, and institutional racism with comedy interspersed. I know what you’re thinking, “How can institutional racism be funny?” Well, it’s not… The “logic” behind it is, and Kilstein and Kilkenny call it out with a merciless, biting wit. Plus, they add in funny stories about their life together, and there’s a nicely placed Nickelback joke. #Newsfail is compelling content-wise and prose-wise. In other words, it’s not your typical current affairs book. Kilstein and Kilkenny's thesis is that independent media outlets are where we should be getting our news, because mainstream media is so biased. Because I have working ears and grew up in a politically divided household, I have long been aware of how the same news story can be spun different ways, but I never really thought about the issue in depth. #Newsfail and Citizen Radio takes a step back and presents the hard facts, namely, the real story you can’t get when you turn on your TV (spoiler: advertisers are a huge problem). Not only do the authors call out Fox News as a propaganda machine masquerading as a news station, but Kilstein and Kilkenny also point their guns at MSNBC and CNN.

The authors do not hide the fact that they are “left-of-left” on the political spectrum, but that does not get in the way of the facts they present. Because the book is part memoir, their political outlooks do come into the discussions after the facts are presented. It is apparent that these are their opinions based on those facts, unlike the opinions that are presented as news in mainstream media. Feeding us the facts—pretty cool concept, am I right?

Sometimes Kilstein and Kilkenny were too harsh or in-your-face for my taste, and I didn’t agree with them on some points, but that’s OK. It’s their book, and these things need to be heard [read]!

Not only is #Newsfail compelling and hilarious, it is important. It reminds us to take a look at our sources and how those sources influence the story—something everyone on the political spectrum should do. Sadly, not checking the source is a serious problem right now, from my conservative relatives who eat Fox News for all three meals to my Facebook friends who earnestly write, “OMG this is horrible!!!!” and attach an article from The Onion. *Facepalm.*

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 2 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.