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The Dark Side of Media and Technology

A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy

Edited By Edward Downs

The Dark Side of Media and Technology: A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy is Herculean in its effort to survey for landmines in a rapidly changing media landscape. The book identifies four dark outcomes related to media and technology use in the 21st century, and balances the dark side with four points of light that are the keys to taking ownership of a media- and technology-saturated world. The text contains an impressive list of multi-disciplinary experts and cutting-edge researchers who approach 25 separate dark side issues with concise, highly readable chapters, replete with unique recommendations for navigating our mediated present and future.

The Dark Side of Media and Technology is grounded in theory and current research, but possesses an appeal similar to a page-turning dystopian novel; as a result, this volume should be of interest to scholars, students, and curious lay-readers alike. It should be the "go-to" text for anyone who is interested in learning what the research says about how we use media and technology, as well as how media and technology use us.

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Chapter Five: Understanding Corrosive Elements in the Political Economy of Media (Matthew P. McAllister / Lars Stoltzfus-Brown)


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Understanding Corrosive Elements in the Political Economy of Media


In modern societies, media systems are vital to our democratic and aesthetic lives. We look to our media for basic information, analysis, creativity, and entertainment that maintain and enhance our democracy, our culture, and our personal and social lives. Most of us know that sometimes media do not do these things very well, and may even behave in ways that run counter to these goals. One important reason for less-than-optimal media trends is the economic incentives and structures under which many media organizations operate. Sometimes the way media make money counteracts what we as a society need from media.

Critical political economic perspectives of media offer analyses of this relationship between media’s economic nature in capitalism and their democratic/aesthetic contributions. As Hardy (2014a) notes, a central assumption of this perspective is that “different ways of organizing and financing communications have implications for the range and nature of media content, and the ways in which these are consumed and used” (p. 190) (see also Hardy, 2014b; Mosco, 2009). Such work can certainly be optimistic, including when focusing on the potential of alternatively funded media, media activism or progressive policies designed to limit media monopolies and enhance diversity (McChesney, 2014; Schejter & Stein, 2009).

A strength of this research tradition, however, is to document and critique how media economics and...

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