Commercial Culture: The Media System and the Public Interest

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American mass media are the world's most diverse, rich and free. But their dazzling resources, variety, and influence cannot be rated by the envy they arouse in other countries. Their failures are commonly excused on the grounds that they are creatures of the market, that they give people what they want. This book focusses not on the glories of the media, but on what is wrong with them and why, and how they may be made better. This powerful critique of American mass communications highlights four trends that together sound an urgent call for reform: the blurring of distinctions among traditional media and between individual and mass communication; the increasing concentration of media control in a disturbingly small number of powerful organizations; the shift from advertisers to consumers as the source of media revenues; and the growing confusion of information and entertainment, of the real and the imaginary. The future direction of the media, Bogart contends, should not be left to market forces alone. He shows how the public's appetite for media differs from other demands the market is left to satisfy because of how profoundly the media shape the public's character and values. In conclusion, Bogart asserts that a world of new communications technology requires a coherent national media policy, respectful of the American tradition of free expression and subject to vigorous public scrutiny and debate. Commercial Culture is the most comprehensive analysis of the media as they evolve in a technological age. It will be of great appeal to general readers interested in mass communications, as well as professionals and scholars studying American mass media.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bogart delivers on his promise to describe what is wrong with America's media system. While he has critical comments for all aspects of America's media, he reserves his most cutting observations for television, which he maintains violates its public duty by offering uninformative entertainment shows and newsless news programs. Bogart attributes the deficient state of television, as well as the other major media, to the quest for large audiences and profits. Concentration of media companies also comes in for its share of blame. Bogart argues that with the different forms of media-including book, newspaper and magazine publishing-coalescing into one giant system, this is a crucial time for vigorous public debate over the future of America's media. While some of Bogart's book trods old terrain and other sections are a bit academic, readers who take the media business seriously are given food for thought here. (Dec.)
Aaron Cohen
The media so inundate Americans that it would take an enormous tome to accurately describe and knowingly criticize all their effects on public judgment. For the most part, though, Bogart delivers the goods on the multifaceted range of contemporary American media; what's more, he makes meaningful suggestions for improvement. He takes on nearly the entire range of contemporary journalism and mass culture outlets, from newspapers to Hollywood, insisting that all relentlessly try to entertain when they should inform. His basic points about commercialism rather than the public's interest in quality determining what goes through media pipelines have been made before, but rarely have they been as thoroughly researched and passionately expressed. Oh, Bogart can sound a tad arrogant at times, as in his blanket condemnation of rock music, and revolutionary new media, such as the Internet, fall outside his overview. But his calling for more intelligent criticism and his ways of discouraging media monopolies seem sound. Although not the final word on the issues involved, Bogart's study is still a very valuable contribution on them.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195090987
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Lexile: 1440L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Transaction Edition
Introduction 3
I Fundamentals
1 What Are "The Media?" 15
2 The Media System 33
II Advertising as the Driving Force
3 The Presence of Advertising 65
4 Paying the Piper, Calling the Tune 93
5 Advertising by the Numbers 122
III Flaws and Failures of Commercial Culture
6 The Pursuit of Sensation 143
7 The News as Entertainment 174
8 Believing in the Make-Believe 203
IV Dynamics of Commercial Culture
9 The Manufacture of Taste 221
10 Managing Commercial Culture 247
11 Media Support and Media Substance 266
V Is There a Better Way?
12 Reform, Restructure, or Leave It Be? 287
App A Note on the Measurement of Expenditures on Media 325
Notes 328
Index 371
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