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Victor Pickard

Toward a People’s Internet: The Fight for Positive Freedoms in an Age of Corporate Libertarianism

The US media system is fairly unique among democracies. It is primarily a commercial system that is dominated by a small number of corporations, lightly regulated in terms of public interest protections, and offset by weak public alternatives. This was not inevitable or natural; it resulted from the outcomes of specific policy battles, and from specific values triumphing over others. One way of understanding this logic is to focus on what I refer to as “corporate libertarianism,” which emphasizes negative freedoms (freedom from) as opposed to positive ones (freedom for). Historically, much US media law and policy discourse has been framed in negative terms, exemplified by the First Amendment. But there are also largely forgotten traditions that draw from a positive rights discourse. This social democratic orientation privileges media diversity and protects collective rights held by publics, audiences, and communities over the individual rights of corporations. Drawing from historical case studies, this paper considers media policies founded on positive freedoms for the digital age.


Victor Pickard is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published over 50 articles and book chapters on media activism and the history and political economy of media institutions. He is the editor (with Robert McChesney) of Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights, and the author of America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform.

Recent publications:

Victor Pickard (2013). Social Democracy or Corporate Libertarianism? Conflicting Media Policy Narratives in the Wake of Market Failure. Communication Theory, 23 (4) 336-355.

Victor Pickard (2011). Can Government Support the Press? Historicizing and Internationalizing a Policy Approach to the Journalism Crisis. The Communication Review, 14 (2) 73-95.

Victor Pickard (2010). Reopening the Postwar Settlement for U.S. Media: The Origins and Implications of the Social Contract between Media, the State, and the Polity. Communication, Culture & Critique 3, 2, 170-189.

These articles are also located on: https://upenn.academia.edu/VictorPickard

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

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-04-09