Books

America’s Battle for Media Democracy

The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform 

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How did the American media system become what it is today? Why do American media have so few public-interest regulations compared with other democratic nations? How did the system become dominated by a few corporations, and why are structural problems like market failures routinely avoided in media-policy discourse? By tracing the answers to many of these questions back to media-policy battles in the 1940s, this book explains how this happened and why it matters today. Drawing from extensive archival research, the book uncovers the American media system’s historical roots and normative foundations. It charts the rise and fall of a forgotten media-reform movement to recover alternatives and paths not taken. As much about the present and future as it is about the past, the book proposes policies for remaking media based on democratic values for the digital age.

  • Provides a political, intellectual and social history of postwar American news media
  • Sketches the rise and fall of a social democratic vision of the American press
  • Uncovers the historical context of the deregulatory drift in American media policy
  • Traces the policy roots of the American media paradigm

Praise for the Book

“Today’s media didn’t have to be so bad. Pickard tells a riveting and heretofore largely unknown story of how corporate media had its way with the public interest and trivialized our country’s civic dialogue, despite the efforts of reformers and a once-heroic FCC. Bringing the story right up to today’s high-stakes battle for an Open Internet, this is ‘must–must’ reading for anyone interested in putting our democracy back on track.” – Hon. Michael J. Copps, FCC Commissioner, 2001-2012

America’s Battle for Media Democracy is a well–researched, thoughtful, and lucid critique of media policy in the contemporary United States. To make his case, Pickard turns to history. During
the 1940s, media activists joined together with government officials, academics, and even some corporate leaders to articulate an expansive, social democratic vision for newspapers and radio. The defeat of this movement hastened the triumph of corporate libertarianism – a tradition whose origin Pickard provocatively traces not to the free market fundamentalism of the recent past, but, rather, to the political settlement that followed the Second World War.”– Richard R. John, Columbia University

“In America’s Battle for Media Democracy, Victor Pickard has produced a landmark work in communication history and media studies. Based on painstaking research, [he] sheds crucial new light on the political debates that created the contemporary commercial media system in the United States, and by doing so he allows us to envision a different and better future. This is mandatory reading for everyone concerned with media and politics.”
Robert W. McChesney, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“Victor Pickard is a scholar on the rise. His writing is fine and to the point. There is always need for solid media history based on primary research and good analysis – and this book fulfills both.”
Christopher Sterling, George Washington University

Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights

The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It 

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The sudden meltdown of the news media has sparked one of the liveliest debates in recent memory, with an outpouring of opinion and analysis crackling across journals, the blogosphere, and academic publications. Yet, until now, we have lacked a comprehensive and accessible introduction to this new and shifting terrain.

In Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights, celebrated media analysts Robert W. McChesney and Victor Pickard have assembled thirty-two illuminating pieces on the crisis in journalism, revised and updated for this volume. Featuring some of today’s most incisive and influential commentators, this comprehensive collection contextualizes the predicament faced by the news media industry through a concise history of modern journalism, a hard-hitting analysis of the structural and financial causes of news media’s sudden collapse, and deeply informed proposals for how the vital role of journalism might be rescued from impending disaster.

Sure to become the essential guide to the journalism crisis, Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights is both a primer on the news media today and a chronicle of a key historical moment in the transformation of the press.

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