The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the Twenty-First Century
by Robert W. McChesney (Author)
The symptoms of the crisis of the U.S. media are well-known—a decline in hard news, the growth of info-tainment and advertorials, staff cuts and concentration of ownership, increasing conformity of viewpoint and suppression of genuine debate. McChesney’s new book, The Problem of the Media, gets to the roots of this crisis, explains it, and points a way forward for the growing media reform movement.
Moving consistently from critique to action, the book explores the political economy of the media, illuminating its major flashpoints and controversies by locating them in the political economy of U.S. capitalism. It deals with issues such as the declining quality of journalism, the question of bias, the weakness of the public broadcasting sector, and the limits and possibilities of antitrust legislation in regulating the media. It points out the ways in which the existing media system has become a threat to democracy, and shows how it could be made to serve the interests of the majority.
McChesney’s Rich Media, Poor Democracy was hailed as a pioneering analysis of the way in which media had come to serve the interests of corporate profit rather than public enlightenment and debate. Bill Moyers commented, “If Thomas Paine were around, he would have written this book.” The Problem of the Media is certain to be a landmark in media studies, a vital resource for media activism, and essential reading for concerned scholars and citizens everywhere.
About the Author
Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of several books on the media, including the award-winning Rich Media, Poor Democracy, and a co-editor (with Ben Scott) of Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Radical Media Criticism (both available from The New Press). He lives in Urbana, Illinois.
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Monthly Review Press; 1st Printing edition (March 1, 2004)
Robert McChesney’s work has been of extraordinary importance. . . . It should be read with care and concern by people who care about freedom and basic rights.-Noam Chomsky
How the public is being misled by the mainstream media
This is a critically important book and Robert McChesney is to be highly commended for writing such an expose. What is omitted and what is not written is equally important to what is written. The book points out how the media keeps the public in the dark about many critically important matters by simply not reporting on such matters. And what is written is often done from an “establishment” point of view which distorts the truth and maintains the status quo.
George Orwell would say, “Naaaaaw… really??”
Mostly a very dry read, but what I could distill from this very VERY thorough examination of media issues – focusing on 1996 to 2004 (when it was published) – the Bush Administration was in cohoots with the FCC to allow big corporations to own up to 50% of all media outlets (radio, newspaper, and TV) in any given city or region. That would mean HALF of everything people were exposed to would be swayed to whatever political views that big corporation had.
Where this book left off, what had historically been a bunch of back room decision-making, with no public opinions available to sway votes in either direction, a populist movement arose (ironically, John McCain used to be a good guy on this issue and voted against allowing these near-monopolies) that forced the Senate’s votes to cut down the percentage of corporate ownership to 39%. That’s still wacky huge and scary, but not as bad as it could have been.
Sadly, this book that I bought used had been a library book, and NOBODY had ever checked it out. Kind of eerie the way things are going. I read this book to give me some insight for a dystopian sci-fi novel that I am writing, this book already reads like an Orwellian nightmare… a very bookish one.
It’s a slippery slope. This book documents one foothold in the slow decline of journalistic freedoms.