The cover of this book reports that when Bagdikian published the first edition in 1983, it was dismissed as "alarmist." But he has been vindicated, as the book has reached its sixth edition and the problems he first articulated have become far worse in the ensuing years. The media monopoly problem is far from alarmist. It's alarming. Bagdikian deserves major credit for first publicizing the troubling trend of consolidated media ownership by huge mega-conglomerate corporations. Now we are down to six major media owners. Bagdikian proves that the media have been enslaved to the will of advertisers for decades anyway, as most forms of media make far more money from selling ads than from the members of the public who consume their offerings. But the problem is currently worse than ever as the focus is no longer the public interest, but boosting short-term profits, which has just about eliminated the search for truth or any long-term social focus.
The problem with this edition of the book is that the only current portions are the foreword and afterword, in which Bagdikian outlines where things stand today (that is, worse than ever). Otherwise, the main body of the book appears to be mostly the third edition from 1990. This leads to outdated information and conclusions that are a serious problem for such a quickly developing subject. Although Bagdikian is now more than eighty years old, this work would benefit significantly from a thorough re-write of the main text, rather than the piecemeal additions to the foreword and afterword that supposedly indicate a "new" edition. (Note that plenty of other more modern books have stolen Bagdikian's thunder and cover the issue equally well.) Also, Bagdikian is frequently guilty of attention-grabbing polemics and sarcasm while making his points. This is unnecessary as the facts can speak for themselves.
Regardless, this book is monumentally important not only for its investigation into inequitable corporate control of the media, but also Bagdikian's great insights into the ensuing political and cultural effects on society. This includes everything from the greater costs of goods caused by excessive advertising (a direct contradiction of classic capitalist theory), to the dumbing down of public knowledge of important social issues. In fact, the modern America media is not liberal, despite what close-minded politicians tell you. It's libertarian in its rush for total profit-driven focus and financial control of those same politicians. The general increase in social apathy and malaise among citizens indicates what is wrong with the mainstream media, and the culprit is the relentless and cruel rush for short-term profitability. Public knowledge is the key to a healthy democracy, and corporations have destroyed that for much of America. Worship your new corporate masters. [~doomsdayer520~]