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Justin Lewis

The commercial constraints on speech in the digital age

Because the digital media revolution has provided many more outlets, forums and opportunities for free speech, it is often assumed that this makes our culture more open and democratic. My paper focuses on the way in which commercial media and communications systems continue to place limits upon free speech, narrow our cultural horizons and circumscribe the spaces for open, democratic debate. I will look at three ways in which this happens:

  1. The increasing centrality of advertising as a way to pay for the provision of information and culture has an ideological impact, narrowing the range of discourses we use to understand the world.
  2. As the ability to make profits from selling content diminishes, cultural industries become increasingly reliant on a small number of large-scale information providers.
  3. The commercial news industry has always been influenced by a business model based on the built-in obsolescence of information. The digital revolution has exacerbated this tendency, making it increasingly difficult to question orthodoxies and dominant ways of thinking.


Justin Lewis is Professor of Communication in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. He has written many books about communication, the cultural industries, news and politics, including Constructing Public Opinion and Citizens or Consumers: The Media and the Decline of Political Participation. He is in the editorial board of nine journals and his latest book is Beyond Consumer Capitalism: Media and the Limits to Imagination.

Recent publications:
Justin Lewis (2013) Beyond Consumer Capitalism: Media and the Limits to Imagination: Polity Press. See also Ted Talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfs7ndfWKM&feature=youtu.be

Lewis, J (2015, forthcoming) ‘Quick quick slow: from fast news to slow news’ in Cushion, S. and Sambrook, R. 24 hour news, Peter Lang.

Lewis, J and Thomas, R (2015) ‘More of the same: news, economic growth and the recycling of conventional wisdom’ in Jostein Gripsrud and Graham Murdock (eds) Money Talks, Intellect Books.


Sidansvarig: Christine Forssell|Sidan uppdaterades: 2015-07-13

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