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The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications 1st Edition
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"The Creation of the Media is a fascinating...meditation." -- Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media?
"A sequel, please." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Clearly written and...sweeping in its ambition." -- Los Angeles Times
"Provides the grand synthesis of the history of journalism and communications that has been needed for a long time." -- David Nasaw, author of The Chief
"[An] engrossing, panoramic history of the development of American media...sweeping and authoritative." -- Publishers Weekly
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Missing 5th star is due to Starr cautionary approach, perhaps due to his university tenure. It could explain why he chose to ignore the significant role of both the religion and the Wall Street banks in media evolution, using instead generic terms such as "law and policy". If one replaces "policy" with "religion", Starr gets quite close to Max Weber, if one replaces "policy" with "Wall Street", he gets quite close to Mises and Rothbard. Finally, his admiration for "public" may not sit too well with those of us with high regard to Kierkegaard.
At the outset, this is not a light read. Laced with history, the sociology of people within history, and trends operating in American and European culture, this is for serious students of both history and media. For that crowd, it will be a very pleasant read.
I give high praise to Paul Starr for being able to outline not only the growth of media and opinion, but also putting the growth in light of America's capitalistism and industrial strength.
He starts out by analyzing how European Nations like France and England tried to promote literacy through newsprint and postal services. He then outlines how those measures spilled into the United States during the Colonial Period.
Of course, newspapers were only the tip of the iceberg. Starr carefully analyzes how new inventions like the telephone, telegraph, film, and radio were used heavily for capitalistic gain as well as entertainment. At first, the U.S. Supreme Court was reticent to recognize First Amendment protection to these new mediums.
He also compares and contrasts Europe's tendency to nationalize many inventions instead of letting the market allow inventors to make money on their projects. Meticulously, he shows how the U.S. Navy tried to squelch Marconi's patent for wireless radio, and eventually how the Radio Act of 1927 preserved both the national and private interest.
In the end, Starr seems to point out that American Capitalism was instrumental not only in creating the media, but also allowing it to diversify and eventually find the same protection as print media--and eventually find a huge diversification in points of view.
Of course, all along he finds the naysayers like the Catholic League, the Hayes Code, and the Book Publishers Code that operated out of a fear of the public who did not trust these new medias.
Starr is a talented writer of history and can bring the elements related to new medias with such deft and articulation. He keeps the attention, occassionaly straying from the subject, but returning before interest is lost. Moreover, he does real well in keeping his own biases and prejudices aside, simply telling history instead of trying to interpret everything as either a conservative backlash, or a liberal trick.
Kudos to Starr. I look forward to his future endeavors.