8th Edition

Power Without Responsibility Press, Broadcasting and the Internet in Britain

By James Curran, Jean Seaton Copyright 2018
    584 Pages
    by Routledge

    584 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book attacks the conventional history of the press as a story of progress; offers a critical defence and history of public service broadcasting; provides a myth-busting account of the internet; a subtle account of the impact of social media and explores key debates about the role and politics of the media.

    It has become a standard book on media and other courses: but it has also gone beyond an academic audience to reach a wider public. Hailed as ‘a classic of media history and analysis’ by the Irish Times and a book that has ‘cracked the canon’ by the Times Higher, it has been translated into five languages.

    This edition contains six new chapters. These include the press and the remaking of Britain, the rise of the neo-liberal Establishment, the moral decline of journalism, the impact of social media and a history of attempts to reform the press. It contains new research on the relationship between programmes, institutions and society. It places key UK institutions in the wider context of international affairs and their impact. The book has been updated to take account of new developments like Brexit and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and the shift in authority and legitimacy prompted by social media. It does this with a clear explanation of how policy can shape media outcomes.

    Part I

    Press history

    James Curran

    1. Press history as political mythology
    2. The struggle for a free press
    3. Janus face of reform
    4. Industrialization of the press
    5. Era of the press barons
    6. Press under public regulation
    7. Post-war press: fable of progress
    8. Press and the remaking of Britain
    9. Rise of the neo-liberal Establishment
    10. Moral decline of the press
    11. Part II

      Broadcasting history

      Jean Seaton

    12. Reith and the denial of politics
    13. Broadcasting and the Blitz
    14. Public service commerce: ITV, new audiences and new revenue
    15. Foreign affairs: the BBC, the world and the government
    16. Class, taste and profit
    17. Managers, regulators and broadcasters
    18. Public service under attack
    19. Broadcasting roller-coaster
    20. Part III

      Rise of new media

    21. New media in Britain – James Curran
    22. History of the internet – James Curran
    23. Sociology of the internet – James Curran
    24. Social media: making new societies or polarization – Jean Seaton
    25. Part IV

      Theories of the media

      Jean Seaton

    26. Metabolising Britishness
    27. Global understanding
    28. Broadcasting and the theory of public service
    29. Part V

      Politics of the media

    30. Industrial folklore and press reform – James Curran
    31. Contradictions in media policy – James Curran and Jean Seaton
    32. Media reform: democratic choices – James Curran




    James Curran is Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

    Jean Seaton is Professor of Media History at the University of Westminster, and Director of the Orwell Foundation. 


    ‘This is the book that changed everything in media studies.’

    Sally Young, University of Melbourne

    ‘This is a brilliant seminal history of broadcasting, press and the new media, vividly and insightfully told, with sharp vignettes of political interference and policy challenges. It is a powerful reminder of why public service broadcasting and truthful communication is vital to our democracy.’

    Baroness Helena Kennedy, President of Mansfield College, Oxford

    ‘This skillfully revised and updated edition of Curran and Seaton’s magnificent history is just as fresh and relevant now as it has been over the decades.’

    David Hesmondhalgh, Leeds University

    ‘The pleasure of a classic that just keeps redelivering. Power Without Responsibility proves itself yet again as the go-to source for analysis of the British media at their best and worst.’

    Barbie Zelizer, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania

    ‘If I was able to suggest one book about the history of journalism – whether to a student, a journalist or someone who simply wanted to know more about the role of the news media in our democracy – it would be Power Without Responsibility. Much of our understanding of the past is altered by the present, so we are all indebted to James Curran and Jean Seaton for this excellent new edition. There has been no shortage of controversies and debates about the news media in recent years: this book guides us through them with a sharp eye, a clear head, and the wisdom that comes from a formidable sense of history. Packed with eloquently delivered information, it is analytical but jargon-free, critical without ever being doctrinaire.’

    Justin Lewis, Cardiff University