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Fighting for free information: American democracy and the problem of press freedom in a totalitarian age, 1920--1950 [microform]
Bib ID 6155866
Format BookBook, MicroformMicroform, OnlineOnline
Lebovic, Samuel Martin
Online Versions
Description 555 p. 
ISBN 9781124868509

Based on archival research into various institutions involved with the regulation of the print news media, as well as research into trade journals, published press commentary, and legal cases, the dissertation pays attention both to ideas about press freedom and to practical efforts to create a free press. It is interested less in the institutional history of the media than in the history of efforts to regulate, reform, and preserve the free flow of information through the modern polity. Through a combination of political, intellectual, legal, diplomatic, and labor history, it seeks to develop an understanding of the systemic circulation of information through a public sphere increasingly structured by new forms of state and corporate power.

I show how a diverse range of Americans---journalists, editors, publishers, politicians, lawyers and intellectuals---navigated these intersecting challenges through a series of political conflicts over the meaning and practice of press freedom: New Deal efforts to regulate the newspaper industry; the unionization of journalists; the elaboration of censorship policy during World War II; the drafting of international press laws at the United Nations; Supreme Court hearings on the First Amendment; intellectual symposia on press liberties; and early Cold War disputes over the need to challenge Communist propaganda through the agencies of the press. In all, I argue that the anti-totalitarian commitments of American press advocates led them, ironically, to embrace new modes of corporate and state intervention in the liberal public sphere.

It sheds new light on the complex history of American press freedom, paying particular attention to the growing tensions among First Amendment rights, an industrializing newspaper market, an expanding national state, and the public interest in a free flow of political information. And it seeks to relate these developments to larger transformations in the history of legal rights, political ideology, and democratic governance.

This dissertation studies the problem of press freedom in the middle decades of the American Century, seeking to understand modern anxieties about the making of democratic public opinion. In years of Depression, political crisis, and geopolitical confrontation, I show that the free flow of information in the American polity faced unprecedented challenges---the corporate consolidation of the news media, the rise of the national security state, and the threat of international totalitarianism.



Advisers: Amy Dru Stanley; James T. Sparrow.

Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 72-11, Section: A, page: 4275.

Thesis (Ph.D.)--The University of Chicago, 2011.

Reproduction Microfiche. Ann Arbor, Mich. : University Microfilms International. 
Subjects History, United States.  |  Journalism.  |  Mass Communications.
Other authors/contributors The University of Chicago. History

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