Creation of the Media

Friday, August 09, 2013


It's often been observed that technological innovations are the primary force driving the evolution of the mass media. But make your way through the 402 pages Paul Starr's book The Creation of the Media, and that notion will be left in dust - along with many other common assumptions. In the book, Starr argues that the government has played a much more fundamental role in the growth of the American media than is commonly thought. He discusses his research with Brooke.


Paul Starr

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [2]

Thank you for looking into the role of the government in creating and supporting the media throughout history. From creating the Internet, to copyright, to press freedom and rights, to FCC spectrum, to local right of way, to municipal franchise agreement with cable companies, to anti-trust, to public notice laws that paid newspapers, to BBC/CBC/CPB and other govt funded media, to the postal rules to advantage magazines, etc, no discussion of the media today should not consider the role of government.

After asking for this type of piece, I am thrilled. But I would like you to go one further. Look at how the government can help the news business find a better business model. Should copyright and fair use regulations be changed? Should fees on access be assessed to pay into a fund for journalistic organizations (similar to in the UK)? Philanthropy is a poor substitute for a long term model. One other option is to go back and have the government do public notice through buying advertising space. Government agencies at all levels have been building web sites that allow for "public notice" and saving money that was spent on advertising. Saving that money means fewer journalists to write about government too. This change alone will vastly improve access to government info as well as reinvigorate independent journalism. And some of the public funding for elections could be put aside for ad space on media outlets (not just television ads). I am sure you can find even more ideas.

Aug. 12 2013 10:45 AM
Carl Isaacson from Lindsborg, Kansas

While Mr. Starr's reading of the American situation is very interesting, and given the qualification he makes of press freedom laws, he is probably correct. But America was not the first to enact Free Press laws. Sweden, in 1766, passed a freedom of the press law. That law was overturned by Gustav III, but was restored and even extended after the monarch's death. It is great that we celebrate American freedoms, but we have to be on guard against the kind of exceptionalism that leads to easy jingoism. I look forward to reading Mr. Starr's book.

Aug. 11 2013 07:36 PM

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