Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy

Overview

Praised by the leading media analysts of our time, Digital Destiny is essential reading for anyone concerned about "what's gone, and is going, wrong with the digital media in this country" (Midwest Book Review).

As one of the nation's leading advocates for a more open and democratic U.S. media system, author Jeff Chester's warning is one that we cannot afford to ignore: the potential of the Internet and other digital communication channels to function as "the people's media" is ...

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Overview

Praised by the leading media analysts of our time, Digital Destiny is essential reading for anyone concerned about "what's gone, and is going, wrong with the digital media in this country" (Midwest Book Review).

As one of the nation's leading advocates for a more open and democratic U.S. media system, author Jeff Chester's warning is one that we cannot afford to ignore: the potential of the Internet and other digital communication channels to function as "the people's media" is being undermined by a powerful, largely invisible coalition of corporate and political interests.

"A damning and important case for sweeping reform in governmental regulation" (Publishers Weekly), Digital Destiny eloquently explains how our new media system functions, what's at stake in terms of its effect on democracy, and what we as citizens can do to fight the corporate media's plans for our "digital destiny"-before it's too late.

"A damning and important case for sweeping reform in governmental regulation" (Publishers Weekly), Digital Destiny eloquently explains how our new media system functions, what's at stake in terms of its effect on democracy, and what we as citizens can do to fight the corporate media's plans for our "digital destiny"-before it's too late.

About the Author:
Jeff Chester is the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former investigative reporter and filmmaker, he has been at the forefront of the fight against the increasing consolidation and commercialization of the U.S. media system for nearly three decades

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In recent years, the Federal Communications Commission has come under fire from advocacy groups and, increasingly, the general public for its regulatory decisions (or, in many cases, lack thereof). Writing in the tradition of critic Robert McChesney, media watchdog Jeff Chester examines the FCC, charting the close network of lobbyists, trade associations and other industry representatives in which it is embedded. Through close analysis of recent FCC moves and decisions on media consolidation and network neutrality, Chester makes a damning and important case for sweeping reform in governmental regulation, culminating in a series of policy recommendations that would adjust the balance of power between media corporations and customers. Unfortunately, Chester is mostly preaching to the converted; the general tone of the book is so stridently (even antagonistically) polemic that it's more likely to turn off uninformed or dissenting readers than persuade them. While offering red meat for those already concerned about issues of personal privacy and media choice in an era of growing corporate media oligarchy, Chester doesn't do much to reach beyond them, limiting the book's appeal both as a book and as a piece of advocacy. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A sobering view of today's entrenched corporate media giants as a threat to the concept of an enlightened electorate. As executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a public-interest group, the author has spent 30 years in the middle of Washington's often obfuscated communications policy-making apparatus. Recent trends, he argues, have so broken down former caveats against consolidation of media ownership-newspapers, radio, TV and now digital networks and services-that the future of media content, including the Internet itself, may be effectively determined without public participation. Thanks to rampant deregulation of large media corporations, particularly under the reign of former Bush administration FCC Commissioner Michael C. Powell, Chester asserts, commercial considerations-advertising revenues and fee-based media services-have become the prime force in new media development and delivery schemes. (The news here for many readers may be that it wasn't always this way.) Longstanding policy guidelines recognized that multiple media ownership in local markets could result in shaping information solely to further the agenda of corporate owners. However, Powell, son of former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell, pushed a GOP-endorsed free-market campaign that, while rebuffed in some of its more extreme dimensions, has now empowered single entities to own multiple media outlets and services in local markets. As a way of pointing out the determination-and, in his view, insidiousness-of media giants to lobby against ownership restrictions, Chester singles out the New York Times Corp. as one of the most aggressive, noting that the maneuvers of its corporate stewards remainedcuriously absent from its own news pages for an extended period. A party power shift in Washington, the author sums up, won't necessarily diminish the threat. Complex, quixotic attempt to sway the American public from the temptation to "amuse itself to death."
From the Publisher
"Jeff Chester is the Paul Revere of the media revolution. Read this book and you will understand the stakes." —Bill Moyers

"No other work as concisely and powerfully frames the democratic challenge that media policy presents. It is time people understood plainly just what is at stake. This book makes that understanding possible." —Lawrence Lessig

"Digital Destiny is the most important book on media policy in years and will become required reading for a generation of students, scholars, activists and concerned citizens across the nation." —Robert W. McChesney

"A noble and eloquent guardian of the public interest, Jeff Chester shows how Big Media too often allows journalism to take a back seat to profit margins. Digital Destiny is a passionate and powerful book." —Ken Auletta, media writer for The New Yorker

"All Americans should read this important and timely book. It discloses the multi-billion dollar agendas of the powers-that-be and precisely how they impact our lives." —Charles Lewis, founder, The Center for Public Integrity

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595583437
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 7/7/2008
  • Pages: 282
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Chester is the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. He has long been on the front lines fighting against the consolidation and commercialization of the U.S. media system. A former investigative reporter and filmmaker, he lives outside Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction: Communications at the Crossroads     xv
Really "Meet" the Press: The Days, Months, and Years When You Didn't "Read-or See-All About It"     1
Consolidation Dance: Featuring Clinton, Gore, Gingrich, and a Cast of Lobbyists     16
The Federal Conglomeration Commission     46
The Art of the Front     65
The Powell Doctrine     90
Showdown at the FCC     102
The Brandwashing of America: Marketing and Micropersuasion in the Digital Era     127
Cable Costra Nostra: Why You Should Never Believe What the Media Industry Promises     159
The Golden Wire     171
Supermedia Monopolies     182
A Policy Agenda for the Broadband Era     192
Notes     209
Index     279
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