The radical tradition, which views the development of the media in terms of containing working-class advance and consolidating elite domination, is urged to take account of reformist success. The libertarian interpretation charting the culture wars between moral traditionalists and liberals in the context of de-Christianisation indicates that liberals in Britain have been gaining the upper hand though the outcome is clearly very diferent in some other countries.
The populist interpreta- tion that views the increased commercialisation of the media as a means of emanci- pation from a cultural elite, in a celebratory account of the growth of consumerism, remains inluential, though perhaps not the force that it was. By contrast, the tech- nological determinist interpretation, which sees successive new media as trans- forming the culture, social relations and sensibility of the age, has received a boost from the recent boom in Internet studies.
The standard interpretation argues that the British press became free when it ceased to be subject to punitive taxation in the mid-nineteenth century and hails the politicians who campaigned for this as freedom ighters albeit also with vested interests.
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It shows that a major concern was to lower the price of newspapers and expand the press as a way of indoctrinating the lower orders. Furthermore, it is argued, they were right, partly because the shift from craft to high-cost industrial production of the press, and increased dependence on advertising, made radical journalism more diicult. The next chapter examines the impact of advertising on the press during the irst two-thirds of the twentieth century.
It argues that the rise of advertising agen- cies as intermediaries, the development of evidence-based selection of advertising media and the rising incomes and advertising worth of workers all made it easier for radical journalism to make a breakthrough in the irst half of the twentieth century. This said, advertising spending across newspapers was still very unequal, save for a brief period of newsprint rationing, because some readers had more money to spend than others, generated a higher advertising bounty and were worth more to publishers to recruit.
This distorted the structure of the press, and its editorial strategies, in ways that disadvantaged the left. But this outcome came about in an unsought way and was the product of an impersonal economic process rather than of political discrimination. In advancing this argument, I was inluenced at the time by contending instru- mentalist and structuralist interpretations of the state in critical political theory, and advanced in efect a structuralist interpretation of the inluence of advertising on the press.
But in the course of researching this essay, I became fascinated by the way in which the new business disciplines of market research and advertising media planning were developed by a motley but clever group of people. They changed the operation of the market by the way in which they reinterpreted it, in the process inluencing the development of the press.
Essentially the same process was at work when new ways of conceptualising and measuring the television audience, and of segmenting the market, in later twentieth-century America encouraged the growth of specialist television channels. Chapter 11 shows that book reviews in the British national press centre on literary iction, history, biography, literary studies and politics. This excludes some books that are popular bestsellers and some that are important in particular those concerned with science and social science.
This idiosyncratic selection relects the educational backgrounds of books editors, most of whom studied history or English at elite universities. Their predilections are reinforced by editorial tradition, their skewed teams of book reviewers and their social networks.
More paperbacks are reviewed, but the neglect of science has become even more pronounced. The last chapter reviews the development of British media and cultural studies during the last twenty-ive years. This leaves out the way in which changes in the wider context of society inluence the development of research. While some contextual inluences have been positive, the ascendancy of neo-liberalism has rendered a once radical ield of research less critical.
Now that this ascendancy is contested, after the crash, perhaps this will change. All previously published essays have been revised for publication here. My aim has been to make them accessible to a irst-year undergraduate. My thanks go to Stanford University, which awarded me a Visiting McClatchy Professorship, Pennsylvania University, which provided me with a visiting Annenberg-endowed post, and the Annenberg Press Commission, which invited me to join its ranks and produced an inquest volume on the American media.
Early fruits of this are presented in the middle part of this book. As part of this, I would like to express my thanks to Joanna Redden, who won a Leverhulme scholarship from a crowded ield and provided research assistance for Chapters 2, 6 and 7. My thanks go also to Justin Schlosberg, who rendered consistent the presentation of footnotes.
All other acknowledgements are gratefully expressed at the beginning of chapters. Its starting point is that the media should be organised as a free-market system on the grounds that any form of public ownership or legal regulation beyond the barest minimum endangers media freedom. However, this approach difers from neo- liberalism in that it also argues that the free market can have debilitating efects on the media.
Its solution to this double bind — the need to have a free market and to negate its adverse efects without involving the state — is to develop a tradition of profession- alism among journalists. In this way, the media can remain free, yet serve the people. This general thesis is set out in the Hutchins Commission report, still perhaps the most cogent and elegant report on media policy ever published in the English language. The media have also a duty, it argues, to serve the public good — something that cannot be fulilled automatically through the free play of the market.
This is because the efort to attract the largest audi- ence can sometimes undermine accuracy and encourage a preoccupation with the exceptional rather than the representative, the sensational rather than the signiicant. Free-market processes have also given rise to plutocratic ownership of newspapers and their concentration into chains, creating the potential for abuse.
What, then, should be done? The Hutchins report was written by leading American public intellectuals and published in It came out of a reform movement that had not only public support but perhaps more importantly the backing of major media controllers,5 leading journalists and also journalism educators. It was much easier to be high-minded when competition was limited and proitability was assured by a rising volume of advertising. The growth of conglomerate media ownership had resulted, he argued, in the devolution of shareholder power to managers, who delegated, in turn, considerable decision-making authority to jour- nalists.
This was, he argued, partly an operational consequence of the specialisation of function within news organisations, but it was also a response to the high degree of professional consciousness among journalists. Responsible media capitalism This inluential account acknowledged that news media were inluenced by the underlying belief systems of society and recognised the subtle ways in which jour- nalistic autonomy was in fact constrained.
The book is far from being uncritical. Yet, it failed to engage fully with the way in which the underlying conservatism of American society left a gelatinous imprint on American journalism. This is some- thing to which we shall return in the next chapter. American iconoclasts have also pointed to the limitations of the professional reformist tradition. These limitations were a response, it is argued, to deadline pressure, lack of relevant expertise and sometimes concern to avoid a running battle with authority. In particular, the standard leftwing accusation that American journalism reproduces a news script written by established authority fails to register the multiple conditions in which this is not true.
The classic illustration of this is the —4 Watergate scandal. Subsequent investigations revealed the high- level connections of those involved, and the attempt of President Nixon and his closest advisers to cover this up. Leading media, most notably the Washington Post, played a signiicant part in this disclosure.
Of course, press revelations did not occur in a vacuum.
They were fuelled by leaks, press releases, oicial investigations and public protests from a variety of powerful actors — a judge, a Deputy Director of the FBI, federal prosecutors, a powerful Senate committee, an Attorney and Deputy Attorney General, among others. But none of this should detract from the record of professionally orientated journalists in tenaciously seeking and publishing revela- tions about Watergate, contributing to the downfall of the most powerful man in the world.
American local television could also mount exemplary investigations during this reformist professional era.
Shocked, the reporter dug further and discovered, with his colleagues and, crucially, with the help of concerned lawyers and hospital staf a pattern of systematic abuse in which the same police oicers were repeatedly involved in beating up people, most of whom were black. Perhaps the most admirable thing about this series is how much investment the local TV station was then willing to commit to serious, investigative journalism. The names of police oicers repeatedly accused of brutality, as well as rele- vant witnesses, were identiied by painstakingly combing federal and county court records and even arrest logs.
This enabled a detailed and fully documented presentation of its evidence of wrongdoing. The prominence given to the news reports also helped to ensure that they inluenced the political process. Congressman Harold Washington capitalised on their impact in his mayoral election campaign, promising police reform and mounting a sensational press conference in which he featured ifty alleged victims of police brutality.
Washington was elected as the irst black Mayor of Chicago. Under his short-lived regime cut short by his early death , the police superintendent, Richard Brzeczek, was forced to resign, and internal supervision and control of the police was tightened. A professional culture had been created; talented people had been recruited to journalism and, in the upper reaches, American news media had enormous stafs and budgets. This could still result in remarkable journalism, something that will be illustrated by an unsung series of articles that appeared in the New York Times in But it nevertheless exempliies the industry, intel- ligence and public purpose of well-resourced American journalism, even during its period of decline.
The second article centred on neglect of mentally ill prisoners leading to a spike of suicides, and the third concentrated on failures of care in juvenile detention centres. The articles were memorable partly because they provided dramatic human- interest cameos. One inmate, Brian Tetrault, had his medication drastically reduced on admission to prison. Over the next ten days, he slid into a stupor, soaked in his own sweat and urine. His records were then doctored to make it appear that he had been released before dying. Another inmate, Carina Montes, was admitted to gaol after a long history of mental illness and a suicide attempt as early as thirteen years old.
uthunsynccomm.tk She had been removed from her drug-addicted parents at the age of three, and moved again when her sister was sexually molested by her brother.