Social Foundations of the Mass Media is a historical examination of the intellectual debate over the extent of permissible freedom that should be allowed for the expression and discussion of conflicting ideas. The treatment begins with the ancient Egyptian concepts, extends through Middle Eastern writings, treats the Inquisition and concludes with modern concepts in the United States. Both the church and the state have long desired to repress dissident opinion fearing that their authority would be undermined. They have used persecution, laws, the courts and public opinion to try to impose their ideas upon an unwilling population. Thinkers from Aristotle to Zechariah Chafee, Jr., the renowned legal scholar at Harvard University, and Hugo Black, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, have had much to say about the role of journalists, writers and dissidents. Each of their ideas and those of many others appear in the Social Foundations of the Mass Media. The debate will continue well into the future, but the issues that have been raised over the centuries remain central to the debate today.
Walter M. Brasch, a national award-winning former newspaper Reporter and Editor, is a University Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications and Syndicated Newspaper Columnist. Dana R. Ulloth is a Professor in the Department of Mass Communication at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.