The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications
In this sweeping history, Paul Starr shows how politics created our media world, from the emergence of the first newspapers and postal systems in early modern Europe and colonial America to the rise of the mass press, telecommunications, motion pictures, and broadcasting in the twentieth century. Critical choices about freedom of expression, ownership of media, the architecture of networks, secrecy, privacy, and intellectual property have made the modern media as much a political as a technological invention. The American Revolution, Starr argues, set the United States off on a path of development in communications that diverged sharply from patterns in Europe. By the early nineteenth century, when the United States was neither a world power nor a primary center of scientific discovery, it was already a leader in postal service, newspapers, and popular journalism, then in development of telegraph and telephone networks, later in the whole repertoire of mass media and entertainment. The rise of the media has become the story of an American ascendancy-and an American dilemma. The framework of communications established in the United States has proved to be a source of economic growth, cultural influence, and even military advantage for the country. But the media have also become a constellation of power in their own right, upsetting the classical vision of the role of the press in a democracy. 'The creation of the media' not only presents the media in a new way; it also puts American politics into a new perspective.