Solomon, Norman 1951-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Solomon, Norman 1951-

PERSONAL:

Born July 7, 1951, in Washington, DC; son of Morris J. (an economist) and Miriam (an economist) Solomon; married Cheryl D. Higgins, May 31, 1996.

ADDRESSES:

Home—P.O. Box 42384, Portland, OR 97242. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Montgomery County Sentinel, Rockville, MD, newspaper reporter, 1968-70; KBOO-FM Radio, Portland, OR, producer of commentary, 1972-79; freelance investigative journalist, 1978—; Creators Syndicate, Los Angeles, CA, "Media Beat" column, syndicated nationally, 1992—; Pacific News Service, correspondent; Center for Investigative Reporting, former associate. National Radio Project, senior advisor; served as radio anchor for live coverage of Democratic and Republican national conventions, 1992, 1996, and 2000.

MEMBER:

Institute for Public Accuracy, Washington, DC, executive director, 1997—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Prize for news reporting, 1970, from Maryland-Delaware Press Association; George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, National Council of Teachers of English, for The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media: Decoding Spin and Lies in Mainstream News.

WRITINGS:

No Title (novelette), Out of the Ashes Press (Portland, OR), 1971.

The Tragedy of King Lethal (adaptation of play King Lear, by William Shakespeare; first produced as a radio play in Portland, OR, on KBOO-FM, 1972), 1971.

In the Belly of the Dinosaurs: Resisting the Death Convention, Out of the Ashes Press (Portland, OR), 1972.

Cockroach (novel), Out of the Ashes Press (Portland, OR), 1974.

Now: A Narrative Document, Out of the Ashes Press (Portland, OR), 1976.

Blue Vehicle (novel), Out of the Ashes Press (Portland, OR), 1978.

(With Harvey Wasserman) Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America's Experience with Atomic Radiation, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1982.

(With Martin A. Lee) Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media, Carol Publishing Group (New York, NY), 1990.

The Power of Babble: The Politician's Dictionary of Buzzwords and Doubletalk for Every Occasion, Dell (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Jeff Cohen) Adventures in Medialand: Behind the News, Beyond the Pundits, Common Courage Press (Monroe, ME), 1993.

False Hope: The Politics of Illusion in the Clinton Era, Common Courage Press (Monroe, ME), 1994.

(With Jeff Cohen) Through the Media Looking Glass: Decoding Bias and Blather in the News, Common Courage Press (Monroe, ME), 1995.

The Trouble with Dilbert: How Corporate Culture Gets the Last Laugh, Common Courage Press (Monroe, ME), 1997.

(With Jeff Cohen) Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News, Common Courage Press (Monroe, ME), 1997.

The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media: Decoding Spin and Lies in Mainstream News (essays), Common Courage Press (Monroe, ME), 1999.

(With Reese Ehrlich) Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You, introduction by Howard Zinn, afterword by Sean Penn, Context Books/Out of the Ashes Press (Portland, OR), 2003.

War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, J. Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.

Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State, PoliPointPress (Sausalito, CA), 2007.

Contributor to various periodicals, including the Boston Globe, San Francisco Examiner, Progressive, Nation, WIN, New Haven Advocate, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, New York Times, and USA Today. Work is anthologized in How Old Will You Be in 1984?, edited by Diane Divoky, Avon, 1969; High School, edited by Ronald Gross and Paul Osterman, Simon & Schuster, 1970; The Soft Revolution, edited by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, Delta Books, 1971; Radical School Reform, edited by Beatrice Gross and Ronald Gross, Simon & Schuster, 1971; and Generation Rap, edited by Gene Stanford, Dell, 1971. Author of the nationally syndicated column "Media Beat," 1992—.

ADAPTATIONS:

War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death was adapted as a documentary film in 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Norman Solomon was born in 1951, in Washington, DC He got an early start in journalism, working as a newspaper reporter for the Montgomery County Sentinel in Rockland, Maryland, when he was just seventeen. From there he went on to radio, taking a job at KBOO-FM Radio, in Portland, Oregon, where he spent a number of years writing commentary for the air. By the late 1970s, he was working as a freelance investigative reporter. He has worked for the Pacific News Service as a correspondent, and as a member of the Creative Syndicate out of Los Angeles. Solomon has come to specialize in the media and politics. He is a participant in the National Radio Project and served as radio anchor for live coverage of both the Democratic and the Republican national conventions in 1992, 1996, and 2000. His weekly column, "Media Beat," is syndicated across the country. He also contributes regularly to a number of periodicals and often makes guest appearances on television news programs. Solomon believes strongly in the importance of accuracy and ethics in journalism; he is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Solomon has published numerous books pertaining to politics and the media. Adventures in Medialand: Behind the News, Beyond the Pundits, which he wrote with Jeff Cohen, addresses the issues of large corporations with deep pockets and the ways in which they sway the political arena to suit their interests. The book collects a number of essays, some of which were previously printed, and shapes them into a cohesive set of hits against corporate America and its less ethical practices. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised the book on the whole, particularly noting the suggestion that "the media should track campaign spending by calculating which candidate has won more VPDS—‘votes per dollar spent.’" William E. Coleman, Jr., in a review for ETC: A Review of General Semantics, found the collection to be "thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating." Solomon and Cohen followed up with Through the Media Looking Glass: Decoding Bias and Blather in the News, focusing in particular on how television news delivers various types of messages and on the roles of high-paid news anchors who are removed from much of the reality they report. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the essays contained in the book to be "a useful survey of contemporary issues and what the media aren't telling us."

Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News, again cowritten with Cohen, takes a look at the direct link between many of the people reporting the news and the people about whom they are reporting, as well as the financial advantages they face every time they express their opinions. The book mentions such connections as political news commentator George Will's previous occupation as a speechwriter for the former U.S. senator Jesse Helms. It also discusses lecture fees made by various news anchors when they speak at functions organized by corporate lobbyists. Doug Ireland, reviewing the book for the Nation, remarked that "one of the great values of this book is that it demolishes the myth that liberalism dominates the media." He went on to conclude: "Skilled puncturers of the conventional wisdom, Solomon and Cohen continue to provide us with (as Studs Terkel puts it in his introduction to the book) ‘all the news that the Respectables find unfit to print.’"

In War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, Solomon addresses the relationship between the government and the media in wartime, focusing in particular on the war in Iraq. The book looks at the ways in which governments convince the public that war is necessary, all the while insisting that it is a last resort and not an action to be taken lightly, regardless of their true goals and opinions. Solomon states that the media should be responsible for calling attention to inappropriate actions taken by the U.S. government; however, during the period leading up to the war in Iraq and for many months of its duration, according to Solomon, the American media was supportive not only of the government's decisions, but of the war itself. Solomon points out that the media overlooked many debatable statements and actions on the part of the U.S. government and continually refused to confront political leaders with difficult questions. Brent Cunningham, in a review for the National Catholic Reporter, called Solomon's effort "a primer on how successive administrations, starting with Lyndon Johnson, have used the press—indeed, how the press has been at times actively complicit—in selling the nation on wars big and small, and more important on the dubious notion of America's altruism and righteousness in waging those wars." Library Journal contributor Judy Solberg remarked that the book provides "useful tips on how to evaluate the prewar messages of any administration, current or historical."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

ETC: A Review of General Semantics, summer, 1994, William E. Coleman, review of Adventures in Medialand: Behind the News, Beyond the Pundits.

Library Journal, July 1, 2005, Judy Solberg, review of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, p. 95.

Nation, July 28, 1997, Doug Ireland, review of Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News, p. 33.

National Catholic Reporter, October 28, 2005, Brent Cunningham, "Critique of America's War-making Doesn't Go Far Enough," p. 15.

Publishers Weekly, August 23, 1993, review of Adventures in Medialand, p. 64; May 15, 1995, review of Through the Media Looking Glass: Decoding Bias and Blather in the News, p. 69.