The Creation of the Media: The Political Origins of Mass Communications

Article excerpt

Paul Starr. The Creation of the Media: The Political Origins of Mass Communications. New York: Basic, 2004.

Paul Starr, a Princeton sociologist, has done extensive research to produce a media history spanning the years 1600-1941 (the latter year was chosen because Starr believes it marks the beginning of American media combination and consolidation). The book argues that communications only does well when following the American model, in which neither the government nor private monopolies have absolute control.

American media first began to thrive in Colonial days, when America had free and open communications and, consequently, an especially healthy "public sphere" (the sphere of public discussion, public knowledge, and public opinion). In the nineteenth century America became the world leader in communications with active state support - e.g., the U.S. post office was unusually extensive compared to European postal services of the time, and the American government created readers by its solid support for public education. …