Free Speech and Unfree News: The Paradox of Press Freedom in America


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6.0 X 9.4 X 1.0 inches | 1.15 pounds

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About the Author

Sam Lebovic is Assistant Professor of History at George Mason University.


Provocative and stimulating. Lebovic shows that, although the American press has grown unusually free from government interference, it is constrained by the vast expansion of government secrecy and the intensification of the profit motive in the shifting news marketplace.--Michael Schudson, author of The Rise of the Right to Know
How could a nation proud of its commitment to free expression also be a place where journalists must scour through leaked documents to learn basic facts about government policies? Sam Lebovic's spectacular and important book shows how the idea of a 'right to know' dropped out of twentieth-century understandings of the First Amendment. Essential for understanding what has become of an American free press.--Mary L. Dudziak, author of War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences
[Lebovic] argue[s] that the dominant conception of civil liberties is insufficiently ambitious. [He] worr[ies] that as formulated, civil liberties are as much a tool for the powerful as for the powerless...Offer[s] important correctives to the celebratory accounts of civil liberties that we so often tell ourselves.--David Cole "New York Review of Books" (3/23/2017 12:00:00 AM)
Free Speech and Unfree News: The Paradox of Press Freedom in America appears at an opportune moment in history...This is a thorough historical analysis that highlights the tension between an American commitment to a narrow definition of press freedom and access to, and reporting of, news that contributes to democratic self-government. It is superbly organized and very readable.--Joseph Russomanno "Journalism & Mass Communications Quarterly" (12/1/2016 12:00:00 AM)
Extremely original and well-written...[Lebovic] shows fascinating relationships among many different topics that have not previously been juxtaposed.--David M. Rabban "Reviews in American History" (6/1/2017 12:00:00 AM)
At every stop on this wide-ranging tour of twentieth-century America, Lebovic's research is deep and persuasive...Free Speech and Unfree News is a splendid history of the travails of twentieth-century American journalism.--David Paul Nord "Journal of Social History" (9/1/2017 12:00:00 AM)
[A] smart--and timely--book.--Nicole Hemmer "U.S. News and World Report" (6/6/2017 12:00:00 AM)
One of the virtues of Free Speech and Unfree News is its resurrection of mid-century arguments long buried by the conventional wisdom of the media industries...Those hoping for a happier history will have a hard time dismissing this book. Its research, both historical and legal, is broad and deep.--John Nerone "International Journal of Press/Politics" (7/1/2017 12:00:00 AM)
Interesting, nuanced, and thoughtful...A relevant and thought provoking book.--Bonnie Brennen "Journal of Communication" (4/1/2017 12:00:00 AM)
Lebovic's book is compelling reading. Well researched and written, it does a masterful job of logically weaving together the legal, social, economic, and political threads that have created the fabric of American press freedom.--Karie Hollerbach "American Journalism" (9/1/2017 12:00:00 AM)
Examines the hazy relationship between press freedoms and the actual execution of the press's democratic mission...An engaging, well-written book about an enduring problem in American democracy.--Jared Schroeder "Political Science Quarterly" (1/1/2018 12:00:00 AM)
A deep examination of the legal, political, social, and cultural discussions of the role of the press in America in the twentieth century...It [offers] a narrative that is lacking in other classic press freedom books.--Daxton R. "Chip" Stewart "Journalism History" (4/1/2017 12:00:00 AM)