Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America

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Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America

Mark Lloyd

1stPublisher: University of Illinois PressFormat: Paperback

“A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both” James Madison, 1822. Inspired by Madison's observation, Mark Lloyd has crafted a complex and powerful assessment of the relationship between communications and democracy in the United States. In “Prologue to a Farce”, he argues that citizens' political capabilities depend on broad public access to media technologies, but that the U.S. communications environment has become unfairly dominated by corporate interests. Drawing on a wealth of historical sources, Lloyd demonstrates that despite the persistent hope that a new technology (from the telegraph to the Internet) will rise to serve the needs of the republic, none have solved the fundamental problems created by corporate domination.After examining failed alternatives to the strong publicly-owned communications model, such as anti-trust regulation, the public trustee rules of the Federal Communications Commission, and the under-funded public broadcasting service, Lloyd argues that we must recreate a modern version of the Founder's communications environment, and offers concrete strategies aimed at empowering citizens.

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