Synopses & Reviews
American mass media are the world's most diverse, rich and free. But their dazzling resources, variety, and influence cannot be rated by the envy they arouse in other countries. Their failures are commonly excused on the grounds that they are creatures of the market, that they give people what they want. This book focusses not on the glories of the media, but on what is wrong with them and why, and how they may be made better. This powerful critique of American mass communications highlights four trends that together sound an urgent call for reform: the blurring of distinctions among traditional media and between individual and mass communication; the increasing concentration of media control in a disturbingly small number of powerful organizations; the shift from advertisers to consumers as the source of media revenues; and the growing confusion of information and entertainment, of the real and the imaginary. The future direction of the media, Bogart contends, should not be left to market forces alone. He shows how the public's appetite for media differs from other demands the market is left to satisfy because of how profoundly the media shapes the public's character and values. In conclusion, Bogart asserts that a world of new communications technology requires a coherent national media policy, respectful of the American tradition of free expression and subject to vigorous public scrutiny and debate.
Commercial Culture is the most comprehensive analysis of the media as they evolve in a technological age. It will be of great appeal to general readers interested in mass communications, as well as professionals and scholars studying American mass media.
"Leo Bogart is one of those rare sociologists who have achieved recognition almost entirely outside the academic world....Commercial Culture...is wise, occasionally witty, eminently well informed, an acerbic compendium of up-to-date information on the American media system."--Contemporary Sociology
"Drawing upon both an immense experience and focussed social science research, Leo Bogart has long been our premier social critic of the mass media. Commercial Culture is by all odds the most deeply informed and telling critique of mass culture in this timid time of political correctitude."--Robert K. Merton, Columbia University
"Leo Bogart's Commercial Culture is a trenchant but hopeful critique of the media, sober and radical by turns, which reaffirms the public interest in mass communication. It is a product of wide learning, long study, and patient observation...the definitive book on commercial culture."--James W. Carey, Columbia University
"In today's culture, the media dominate the shared experience of all Americans. Leo Bogart's thesis that market forces alone should not dictate the future direction of the media could not, therefore, be more important or timely. He has written an insightful and compelling book that every thoughtful citizen should read."--Daniel Yankelovich, Public Agenda Foundation
"Anyone concerned about the impact for good or ill of the media on our society should have access to this book for reference. It is a mine of facts, quotes, assessments and views--an ample, but satisfying meal...."--Logos
This critique of the American commercial media comes from a writer who has wide experience in both the media business and in academia. Bogart explores how commercial demands affect the substance and form of American media, and argues that the future of the media should not be left to market forces.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 328-369) and index.
Table of Contents
What are "the media"? -- The media system -- The presences of advertising -- Paying the piper, calling the tune -- Advertising by the numbers -- The pursuit of sensationalism -- The news as entertainment -- Believing in make-believe -- The manufacture of taste -- Managing commercial culture -- Media support and media structure -- Reform, restructure, or leave it be?.