The Internet and the Mass Media

Article excerpt

* The Internet and the Mass Media. Lucy Kiing, Robert G. Picard, and Ruth Towse, eds. New York, NY: Sage Publications, 2008. 200 pp. $32.97 pbk.

Most of the literature and virtually all textbooks in the field of media management continue to focus on traditional industries and traditional issues; the Internet has typically been treated peripherally. A handful of recent books has made the Internet and the associated digital technologies a central focus. Virtually all of these, however, tend to take either a purely management or purely economic approach - a good example of the former is Managing of Media Companies by Annet Aris and Jacques Bughin; and of the latter, Internet and Digital Economics, edited by Eric Brousseau and Nicolas Curien. This work, The Internet and Mass Media by Lucy Kiing, Robert Picard, and Ruth Towse, is a rare exception that effectively integrates these two perspectives to produce a solid, multidisciplinary approach to "the impact of the Internet on mass media."

Kiing is a professor at the Institute for Media and Entertainment in New York and at the Media Management and Transformation Centre at Sweden's Jönköping International Business School; Picard is a media economist at Emerson College in Boston; and Towse is an economics professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

The core of this book consists of six chapters by well-known scholars, each focusing on a specific impact of the Internet - technology platforms, content, users, regulation, the organization of enterprises, and their business models. These chapters all do three things: (1) they present a rich description of the changes and developments as of the time of their writing; (2) they offer a clear discussion of the "Why?" question, well-grounded in the two theoretical perspectives; and (3) they provide a window, both conceptually and empirically, for examining their respective impacts going forward. Part of what makes these six narratives both compelling and useful is their focus on the underlying fundamentals.

Books written by committee often turn out to be disjointed. This is not the case here for two reasons. One is that the various authors all spent five years meeting regularly as part of a larger initiative sponsored by the European Union, permitting the various scholars to understand how their work fits with that of the others. The second reason for the book's coherence, and one of its real strengths, is the strong editing provided by Kiing, Picard, and Towse. Two very useful introductory chapters are an important element of this effort. The first not only provides the usual description of what the book is about, and an introduction to the core chapters; it also connects each of the chapters to underlying theoretical perspectives. …