A Social History of Contemporary Democratic Media
By Jesse Drew
Routledge – 2013 – 224 pages
The last few decades have helped dispel the myth that media should remain driven by high-end professionals and market share. This book puts forward the concept of "communications from below" in contrast to the "globalization from above" that characterizes many new developments in international organization and media practices. By examining the social and technological roots that influence current media evolution, Drew allows readers to understand not only the Youtubes and Facebooks of today, but to anticipate the trajectory of the technologies to come.
Beginning with a look at the inherent weaknesses of the U.S. broadcasting model of mass media, Drew outlines the early 1960s and 1970s experiments in grassroots media, where artists and activists began to re-engineer electronic technologies to target local communities and underserved audiences. From these local projects emerged national and international communications projects, creating production models, social networks and citizen expectations that would challenge traditional means of electronic media and cultural production. Drew’s perspective puts the social and cultural use of the user at the center, not the particular media form. Thus the structure of the book focuses on the local, the national, and the global desire for communications, regardless of the means.
'…Drew offers formidable knowledge of American alternative broadcasting, both radio and television. It is compelling reading for anyone writing about politicized culture, media history, or anti-corporate activism…Much of what he says about democratic media, no one would disagree with. What lends particular value to his statements is the emphasis on first-hand accounts of his personal involvement, and depictions of events in which he played a role.' Molly Hankwitz, Other Zine
"A Social History of Contemporary Democratic Media draws on a remarkable personal history of labor, antiracist, and media activism. […] The author effortlessly straddles the fence between doing social movement media and analyzing them." -John D. H. Downing, International Journal of Communication
Introduction 1. The Rise and Fall of the Broadcasting Model 2. The DIY Aesthetic and Local Media 3. Networking the Global Community 4. Labor Communications in the New Global Economy 5. The Fight over Content 6. The Shape of Things to Come
Jesse Drew is Professor of Technocultural Studies at the University of California, Davis, US.