Conglomerates and the Media

Overview

What are the effects of increasing conglomerate ownership on the creation and dissemination of news and culture? Available for the first time in paperback, these nine essays by leading media insiders and critics take probing, critical looks at the dramatic changes of recent years.

Opening with a fascinating overview of radio and television history by Erik Barnouw, the "dean of American media critics", the first part of the book features longtime media insiders such as Richard M....

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Overview

What are the effects of increasing conglomerate ownership on the creation and dissemination of news and culture? Available for the first time in paperback, these nine essays by leading media insiders and critics take probing, critical looks at the dramatic changes of recent years.

Opening with a fascinating overview of radio and television history by Erik Barnouw, the "dean of American media critics", the first part of the book features longtime media insiders such as Richard M. Cohen (former CBS Evening News senior producer) and Gene Roberts (managing editor of the New York Times), writing candidly on the effects of increasing profit expectations in the newsroom.

In the second part of the book, prominent media analysts, such as Mark Crispin Miller (author of Boxed In), Thomas Schatz (author of The Genius of the System), David Lieberman (USA Today), and Patricia Aufderheide (In These Times), discuss the dumbing-down of the publishing industry, the transformation of Hollywood the increasing importance of merchandising and foreign rights in all media, and the false promise of the digital age. Finally, Thomas Frank (The Baffler) examines advertising and the possibility of resistance to conglomerate control of the media.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Media properties are big business, no matter their form. So a movie studio making a blockbuster film about dinosaurs would be well-advised to buy up a publishing house to spew out books based on the movie's saurian antics, or a magazine to print fawning profiles on the actors involved. Whether any of this -- the movie, the book or the magazine -- is any good is not important. Profits are. As companies like Time Warner, The News Corporation. and Gannett cut swaths through their particular industries, money piles high, but quality remains low, if it exists at all.

Mark Crispin Miller delivers a horrifying invective against a publishing industry currently devoted to self-help kitsch and celebrity dreck (his word). The New York Times's Gene Roberts excoriates the newspaper world.

But what this collection of essays lacks is the point of view of the businessman. Yes, the cultural landscape has been dumbed down considerably, thanks to the rise of conglomerates. That thought is scary enough, but the pressure to make money is so intense that few are willing to risk their necks for quality -- not the moviemakers, not the editors and, regretfully, not many of the writers at small-town newspapers. This book is frightening, though the inclusion of points of view from the moguls themselves and the so-called 'little people' they rule at the bottom would have made it even more so.

Booknews
A witty overview of radio and television history is followed with essays by longtime media insiders -- such as Richard M. Cohen (former 'CBS Evening News' senior producer) and Gene Roberts (managing editor of the New York Times -- on the decline of journalistic integrity and the effects of increasing profit expectations in the newsroom. In Part Two, media analysts discuss the dumbing-down of the publishing industry, the transformation of Hollywood, the increasing importance of merchandising and foreign rights of all media, the false promise of the digital age, and advertising and the possibility of resistance to conglomerate control of the media.
From the Publisher

"Miller's essay on the degeneration of the publishing industry is a model of modulated analysis and curl-your-hair passion." —The Boston Globe

"Provocative critiques, gracefully expressed." —Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565843868
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.47 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author


Patricia Aufderheide is University Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. and the co-director of the Center for Media and Social Impact. She is a co-author of Conglomerates and the Media, published by The New Press. Aufderheide is also the co-author with Peter Jaszi of Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago Press, July 2011), and the author of, among others, Documentary: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2007), The Daily Planet (University of Minnesota Press, 2000), and of Communications Policy in the Public Interest (Guilford Press, 1999). She heads the Fair Use and Free Speech research project at the Center for Media and Social Impact. She has been a Fulbright and John Simon Guggenheim fellow and has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival among others. She has received numerous journalism and scholarly awards, including the Preservation and Scholarship award in 2006 from the International Documentary Association, a career achievement award in 2008 from the International Digital Media and Arts Association, and the Woman of Vision Award from Women in Film and Video (DC) in 2010. Aufderheide serves on the board of directors of Kartemquin Films, a leading independent social documentary production company, and and on the editorial boards of a variety of publications, including Communication Law and Policy and In These Times newspaper. She has served on the board of directors of the Independent Television Service, which produces innovative television programming for underserved audiences under the umbrella of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and on the film advisory board of the National Gallery of Art. She received her PhD in history from the University of Minnesota.

Erik Barnouw (1908–2001) was a historian of radio and television broadcasting and a professor at Columbia University. He had a successful broadcasting career working for CBS and NBC and won the Peabody Award in 1944 for the documentary radio series Words at War. He was elected chairman of the Writer’s Guild of America in 1957 and also served on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Barnouw is the author of several books and a co-author (with Patricia Aufderheide, Richard M. Cohen, Thomas Frank, David Lieberman, Mark Crispin Miller, Gene Roberts, and Thomas Shatz) of Conglomerates and the Media (The New Press).

Richard M. Cohen is a former senior producer of the CBS Evening News. He is a co-author (with Patricia Aufderheide, Erik Barnouw, Thomas Frank, David Lieberman, Mark Crispin Miller, Gene Roberts, and Thomas Shatz) of Conglomerates and the Media (The New Press).

Thomas Frank is a political analyst, historian, journalist, and a columnist for Salon. He is a former columnist for Harper’s Magazine and the Wall Street Journal and was the founder and editor of The Baffler. He is a co-author (with Patricia Aufderheide, Erik Barnouw, Richard M. Cohen, David Lieberman, Mark Crispin Miller, Gene Roberts, and Thomas Shatz) of Conglomerates and the Media (The New Press).

David Lieberman is the executive business editor for Deadline Hollywood where he reports on business and finance, big media, public policy, internet, and technology. Prior to joining Deadline, Lieberman was senior media reporter at USA Today. Lieberman is an adjunct professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business. He is a co-author (with Patricia Aufderheide, Erik Barnouw, Richard M. Cohen, Thomas Frank, Mark Crispin Miller, Gene Roberts, and Thomas Shatz) of Conglomerates and the Media (The New Press).

Mark Crispin Miller is a professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. He is a co-author (with Patricia Aufderheide, Erik Barnouw, Richard M. Cohen, Thomas Frank, David Lieberman, Gene Roberts, and Thomas Shatz) of Conglomerates and the Media (The New Press).

Gene Roberts is a journalist and a former professor of journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. He is a is a co-author (with Patricia Aufderheide, Erik Barnouw, Richard M. Cohen, Thomas Frank, David Lieberman, Mark Crispin Miller, and Thomas Shatz) of Conglomerates and the Media (The New Press).

Thomas Shatz is the Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair of the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the director of media studies and executive director of the University of Texas Film Institute. His writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and academic journals, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Premiere, Film Comment, Film Quarterly, and Cineaste. Shatz is a co-author (with Patricia Aufderheide, Erik Barnouw, Richard M. Cohen, Thomas Frank, David Lieberman, Mark Crispin Miller, and Gene Roberts) of Conglomerates and the Media (The New Press).

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Table of Contents

Publisher's Note 6
Introduction 7
New Look 15
The Corporate Takeover of News: Blunting the Sword 31
Conglomerates and Newspapers 61
The Return of the Hollywood Studio System 73
The Publishing Industry 107
Conglomerates, News, and Children 135
Telecommunications and the Public Interest 157
Liberation Marketing and the Culture Trust 173
About the Contributors 191
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Introduction

The worst hasn't happened yet, but then again some critics have been looking for dangers in the wrong dystopian places. Big Brother isn't looming; Brave New World is. -- From the Introduction to Conglomerates and the Media
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