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I wrote this book to challenge the conventional media wisdom. As the author of The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media I expect that my book will spark some condemnations from people who are comfortable with the media status quo -- but I'm already starting to hear strong positive responses from longsuffering media consumers. This book makes no effort to adhere to the niceties of what usually passes for media criticism. While writing this book, I didn't tiptoe around the revered icons of American journalism and the massive firms that cast such a huge shadow over the media terrain. In short, I didn't pull any punches. So, the book doesn't adhere to the traditional styles of media criticism that remain in fashion -- styles that Jonathan Kozol aptly derides in the book's introduction as 'familiarly incestuous arrangements' in which tepid media critics subdue their dissent 'just enough to hold onto the favor of the powerful.' This book has plenty of humor -- including some very deft cartoons by such wonderful artists as Matt Wuerker and Tom Tomorrow -- but at the same time there's a tight focus on very serious concerns. The concentration of media ownership in fewer and fewer corporate hands has enormous effects on what we see, hear and read -- and what we DON'T see, hear and read -- every day in mass media. The media scenery is so familiar that we tend to accept it as the way things need to be. Yet the media terrain is shaped by big money and maintained by precedents based on undemocratic power that persists every day. Constant commercial intrusions and corporate sensibilities are apt to seem normal and acceptable because they're so routine in a wide array ofmedia outlets. No wonder a lot of news reports are more like product promotion than journalism. It's an uphill battle to challenge the dominant assumptions of mass media. The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media pursues the battle because it's worth struggling for independent journalism and genuine free expression in our society. One of the themes of my book is that cyberspace and other advances in media technology do not necessarily bring us more democratic discourse. Media commentators love to speculate about technical progress and fierce battles for market share. But key questions get short shrift. Here are some of the issues that I address:
- In the future, will media coverage be diverse?
- Who will have access to the glut of media programming?
- Who will control the huge institutions running the mass-media show?
- Who will decide what news is important and what information should be widely disseminated?
- In the media nation on the horizon, what's democracy got to do with it?