Digital Destiny

New Media and the Future of Democracy

Jeff Chester

2007, 304 pages. Published by The New Press, 38 Greene Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY, 10013, (212) 629-8802,

How is it, the author asks, that every new communications technology, from radio to cable television, is hailed as the tool that will make the media more democratic and then is almost immediately subverted (or perhaps perverted) by politics and big business? Chester, a longtime critic of media commercialization, explores how the newest technological breakthroughs, the digital media, could spell further disaster. Do we really want television sets that monitor what we watch? Or an Internet that knows what sites we visit and reports back to advertising companies? Do we want to see the content of newspapers, television stations, and radio stations in the control of a small number of massive corporations? After scaring the bejeebers out of us, Chester concludes with a “policy agenda for the broadband era” in which he puts forward some badly needed reforms, such as strict rules governing the collection of information on the Internet; regulations limiting how many media a single company can own; and a complete overhaul of the FCC.