Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times

Paperback edition, with a new preface by the author.

First published to great acclaim in 2000, Rich Media, Poor Democracy is Robert W. McChesney’s magnum opus. Called a “rich, penetrating study” by Noam Chomsky, the book is a meticulously researched exposition of how U.S. media and communication empires are threatening effective democratic governance. What happens when a few conglomerates dominate all major aspects of mass media, from newspapers and magazines to radio and broadcast television? Since the publication of this prescient work, which won Harvard’s Goldsmith Book Prize and the Kappa Tau Alpha Research Award, the concentration of media power and the resultant “hypercommercialization of culture” has only intensified.

McChesney lays out his vision for what a democratic society has the potential to become, offering compelling suggestions for how the media can be reformed as part of a broader program of democratic renewal. Rich Media, Poor Democracy remains as vital and insightful as ever and continues to serve as an important resource for researchers, students, and anyone who has a stake in the transformation of our digital commons.

This new edition includes a major new preface by McChesney in which he offers both a history of transformations in media since the book first appeared and a sweeping account of the organized efforts to reform the media system and the ongoing threats to our democracy as journalism has continued its sharp decline.

See more about the book at: The New Press.


  • Swedish (2002) – All Makt At Medierna: Eller Ge Folk Vad Folk Vill Ha? Stockholm: Bokforlaget DN. Translation by Hans O. Sjostrum. Foreword by Mikael Lofgren.
  • Chinese (2002) – Xinhua Publishing House, Beijing.
  • Italian (2003.


2008.  ICA Fellows Book Award, for Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times.

2001.   Shortlist, Kraszna-Krausz Moving Image Book Award, for Rich Media, Poor Democracy.

2000.  Frank Luther Mott-Kappa Tau Alpha research award for 1999 for Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times. Awarded for the best research-based journalism and mass communication book published during 1999.

2000.  Goldsmith Book Prize for 1999 for Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times. Awarded by the Joan Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University. (Awarded to book “that best contributes to the improvement of the quality of government or politics through an examination of the press or the intersection of press and politics in the formation of public policy.”)

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