Robert McChesney’s

The Political Economy Of Media (Part I).

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Stephen Lendman, 25 June, 2008.

Robert McChesney is a leading media scholar, critic, activist, and the nation’s most prominent researcher and writer on US media history, its policy and practice. He’s also University of Illinois Research Professor in the Institute of Communications Research and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. UI is lucky to have him, and he says there’s “no better university in the United States to do critical communication research.”

McChesney also co-founded the Illinois Initiative on Global Information and Communication Policy in 2002. He hosts a popular weekly radio program called Media Matters on WILL-AM radio (available online), and is the 2002 co-founder and president of the growing Free Press media reform advocacy group – freepress.net.

McChesney and Free Press want to democratize the media and increase public participation in it. Doing it involves challenging media concentration, protecting Net Neutrality, and supporting the kinds of reforms highlighted at the annual National Conference for Media Reform.

McChesney’s work is devoted to it. He also “concentrates on the history and political economy of communication (by) emphasizing the role media play in democratic and capitalist societies” where the primary goal is profits, not the public interest …

… His criticism doesn’t repudiate the political economy of media. It completes it and its analysis of journalism. On one side are the firms, owners, labor practices, market structures, policies, occupational codes, and subsidies. Its opposite examines journalism as a whole, the media system as well, and how they interact with broad social and economic relations in society. Where inequality exists, depoliticization is encouraged by those on top.

The political economy of media requires enhancing participatory democracy. In turn, it needs great journalism and media systems. An informed and engaged citizenry as well. Journalism needs democracy, and the reverse is true. They also depend on “media reform and broader movements for social justice (that will) rise and fall together.” (full text).

(More on The Political Economy of Media follows in Part II. Watch for it soon on this web site).

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