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Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  103 ratings  ·  20 reviews
A groundbreaking investigative work by a critically acclaimed sociologist on the corporate takeover of local news and what it means for all Americans

For the residents of Minot, North Dakota, Clear Channel Communications is synonymous with disaster. Early in the morning of January 18, 2002, a train derailment sent a cloud of poisonous gas drifting toward the small town.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by Metropolitan Books (first published September 5th 2000)
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Kirk Sinclair
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book contributed mightily to one essay in my own work, Systems out of Balance. The real pioneer in this area is Robert McChesney, whose main message is the threat of corporate controlled media to democracy. Perhaps because of this context I can't quite agree with some of the criticisms I see in some of the reviews on Goodreads, and I'll use those as a foil for my own.

While I don't doubt that Klinenberg shares McChesney's sentiment, I would say the overall emphasis is on the problem of media
Mitchell Szczepanczyk
Mar 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is a history of the politics of American media in the United States since roughly 1980, but with discursions far earlier, and ramifications deep into the future. It doesn't just paint a bleak picture; it describes those citizens and activists who have been working to improve things, and inspires readers to act.

The one complaint about this book is that it doesn't delve deeply enough into the issue; as someone who has worked very deeply on these issues, and as someone who personally
Feb 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Although lengthy, I thought this book provided a detailed review of what has been happening to the American mass media in the past few decades. Klinenberg offers plenty of anecdotes, which are helpful in illustrating his point about mass media. The book was long, however, and being someone who was fairly unfamiliar with this "hot topic," it was slightly hard to follow due to being so complex and full of intricate details. Once I was able to sort through all of the details, I found that I liked ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media by Eric Klinenberg sounds the alarm about big corporate takeovers of local news stations so that they can use their formula for cost cutting by automating broadcasts with pre-programmed news, talk, and music programs that are no longer locally sourced. They attempt to sound local and in tune with the local community but often have almost no staff on hand to take calls with questions or even for emergency reporting, to the detriment of the ...more
Aug 14, 2007 rated it liked it
There's something oddly unsatisfying about this book, which critically reviews the last 30 or so years of American mass media evolution/consolidation (radio, TV, newspapers, internet) and essentially argues that the U.S. should turn back the FCC's regulatory clock to 20 or 30 years.

It's not the history Klinenberg reviews that is dissatisfying - I too despise Clear Channel, TV news, Murdoch's News Corp and fear the loss of "net neutrality," and he marshals the facts ably - it's his conclusions.

Tayyab Baloch
Nov 12, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: disaster-lit
Robert Moses, Jane Jacobs, the Village Voice, Prometheus Radio Project, Houston Chronicle, Cox, ClearChannel, Gannett, 1996 Telecommunications Act, FCC and Sinclair all make appearances in this excellent history of media consolidation, starting with a case study of the communications disaster that unfolded in Minot, North Dakota when a syndicated (ClearChannel) radio station prevented emergency information about poisonous gas in a small town from reaching the airwaves. Published in 2008, its ...more
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for my SOC 225 - Media and Culture college course.

I am not a big lover of non-fiction. I generally read to escape. This book makes me so mad I can't take it. The subject matter and the way that big business and the government are hosing the middle class and poor is so much worse than I thought it was. This navigates the way the media in the United States has rather quickly been steam rolled and taken over by major coorporations with little to no concern for the well being of the public. It
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
As relevant today as it was in 2007. Kudos to Klinenberg for his continuing work in narrative sociological studies.
Todd Martin
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: culture-politics
Media Consolidation

Fighting for Air outlines the concentration of media ownership that has occurred in the US over the past half century. The government initially considered newspaper and later radio and television to be part of the public trust and intended that they be regulated in the public interest. Laws were passed that restricted monopoly ownership, ensuring that the media represented a diversity of views. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) formed by the Communications Act of 1934 has been actively
Mar 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Klinenberg is a muckraker of the 21st Century. In this book he takes on the media industry, looking at how increased ownership concentration (largely a product of the 1996 Telecom Act) has affected the practices of local media. I was aware of some of the problems (e.g., non-local broadcasts faked as local, video news clips), but the evidence here is overwhelming. Even if you've never thought much about how the media business is negatively influencing the information and culture you consume, you ...more
Jean Marie Davis
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology, non-fict
At best books make me question why it is I do what I do. This book did tons of that. I seriously hate Comcast and Clear Channel now. Media conglomeration is the devil.

I knew that media conglomeration made me ill since it's been the death of local radio, etc. but the fact that it can so negatively effect democracy is frightening.

Loved this book. Going to meet the guy in less than a month.
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Engagingly written; tears apart my personal favorite whipping boy, corporations - in this case, big media of the likes of Clear Channel and the Murdoch empire - while offering some cause for optimism about ordinary people's ability to curtail their hegemony. Lots of things we should all know about media consolidation and its enormous effect on society.
Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: activists.
Shelves: activism
This book has an incredible array of information. Fighting for Air covers the basics of why media is important for a healthy democracy and gives a ton of background on Low Power FM, the FCC, and media consolidation.

To get involved, check out:
Mar 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Lots of super-important information here, but a pretty dry reportorial style mixed in with boilerplate rhetoric and too many extended quotes -- sort of like reading a dozen features in The Nation end-to-end, or an extended treatise on why you should eat your vegetables.
Well researched, but rather dry. Unlike the other two of Klinenberg's works I've read, this book had far less enthnographic research.
Oct 02, 2016 added it
little local coverage; more prepackaged programming, including news; less emergency warning/action communications
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Everyone needs to read this book 2.
Kristina Gibson
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most eye-opening book I've read all year. I suspected the harm that media conglomeration was doing, but had no idea of the extent. Pretty shocking.
Evan Lerner
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Jan 09, 2008
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Dec 30, 2011
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Jun 02, 2017
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Eric Klinenberg is Professor of Sociology; Public Policy; and Media, Culture, and Communications at New York University. He is the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (The Penguin Press, 2012), Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media (Metropolitan Books, 2007), and Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of ...more