Academic journal article Journalism History

Freedom of the Air and the Public Interest

Academic journal article Journalism History

Freedom of the Air and the Public Interest

Article excerpt

Benjamin, Louise M. Freedom of the Air and the Public Interest. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2001. 308 pp. $39.95.

Louise Benjamin of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia has written a carefully documented, illuminating book Her systematic study of freedom of expression rights in the electronic media from the 1920s through the mid-1930s offers an examination of the important issues and the roles played by government officials and central characters from broadcast history, such as David Sarnoff and Herbert Hoover.

As one might expect, Benjamin, who is well known for her archival work, used primary source material from more than a dozen locations in tracing the evolution of media rights regarding such key issues as censorship and access. For example, she used the resources of both the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library at West Branch, Iowa, and the David Sarnoff Research Library at Princeton University. A review of the footnotes shows that she also did additional "diligent digging" at the Owen D. Young Collection at St. Lawrence University; the AT&T Corporate Archives at Warren, New Jersey; and, of course, the Broadcast Pioneers Collection, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the NAB Library.

Since issues such as the relationship between print and broadcast have become recurring themes in the history of media regulation, this book provides an excellent comparative overview of the earliest of those battles. The focused mission and time frame of the book provides a useful evaluation of industry policies and governmental attempts to address particular problem areas. …

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