Williams, Kevin. European Media Studies.
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Subject:||Books (Book reviews)|
|Author:||Soukup, Paul A.|
|Publication:||Name: Communication Research Trends Publisher: Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture ISSN: 0144-4646|
|Issue:||Date: Dec, 2008 Source Volume: 27 Source Issue: 4|
|Topic:||NamedWork: European Media Studies (Nonfiction work)|
|Persons:||Reviewee: Williams, Kevin|
Williams, Kevin. European Media Studies. London: Hodder Arnold,
2005. Pp. vii, 184. ISBN 0-340-71902-8 (pb.) 17.99 [pounds sterling].
Intended to fill a gap in general reviews of media and media studies, this introductory text presents seven overview chapters and a general concluding one, all of which seek to tell the student that the media landscape features more than North American and U.S. companies and products and that Europe extends beyond Great Britain when it comes to approaches and interests of media studies. As often happens in the case of such introductory works, the book's strengths become its weaknesses: the desire for breadth and completeness lead the survey chapters to often include too much, with not enough detail. Many times, fairly complex matter receives only one or two sentences. Some chapters, particularly those on public service broadcasting and Eastern European media, appear more completely developed--the author notes that he had prepared both for earlier publication in journals.
An initial chapter ("The European media landscape") provides a look at the media in post-1945 Europe, the various forces for change beginning in the 1970s, ownership patterns, and the media market. Several sidebars offer particular detail on different aspects of the European media world.
Chapter 2 examines the press in Europe, outlining--as do most reviews of newspapers--the declining readership over the last decades. This has led to a number of effects: changing economics of the industry, changing ownership, depolitization, state subsidies, and the move to the Internet.
The next chapter, on the public service model of European broadcasting and deregulation, sketches the most distinct aspect of the European media world. Using a case study from Italy, Williams highlights what has become a crisis in the media--the challenge from independently owned stations or satellite channels and the rapid shift in audience viewing habits. The chapter carefully presents the variations of the public service model in Britain, German, France, and the northern European countries. A North American reader or undergraduate would find this chapter most interesting, but would probably want more detail.
Chapter 4 returns to journalism, comparing different models of journalism and news values. But, as with the case of the newspaper, economic and readership pressures have transformed the existing models and Williams asks whether the European model can survive. The alternatives he sketches do not please: "the PR State" and journalism as entertainment.
Chapter 5 turns to the film industry. Here the key issues for Williams develop out of the economic shift brought about by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in the 1990s. After a brief history of the European film industry, from the early 1900s, he asks whether one can argue for a European cinema in an industry that has moved from individual national cinemas (more or less manifesting the cultures of each nation) to a Europe-wide and even international system of co-production.
Chapter 6, on the media in Eastern Europe, gives an important look at a relatively new area of media studies for the West; at the same time, it suffers from its separation of Eastern European media from those of the rest of Europe, implying (at least) that one cannot have a European media studies. The old regional divisions remain too strong. The chapter looks at the role of television, in particular, in the fall of the various Communist governments and the rise of various post-Communist media systems. The East has seen a resurgence of journalism and other media; whether the privatization model will work remains an open question.
In Chapter 7, Williams strikes out into somewhat uncharted territory for U.S. (and perhaps even for European) readers: media policy as developed by the European Union. He provides a good guide to the EU and its various policy bodies, admitting the confusion caused by overlapping responsibilities among different directorates in the European Commission. Within this model, he notes the struggle between those favoring media competition and those supporting state or EU subsidies to preserve a distinctively European communication structure. He concludes the chapter with a summary of media policy.
The last chapter attempts a summary, a look at the "Europeanization" of the media. It reviews continent-wide structures (including the success of sports broadcasting and the innovative market model of MTV), news coverage of the EU, what Williams calls "fictional Europe"--an image of Europe in film and entertainment television--and a growing European media sphere.
European Media Studies works well as an introduction, but it requires some kind of supplement, whether faculty lecture or explanation or additional reading. The book sketches the territory, mostly in the manner of tourist guide. It will take you only so far in understanding the countryside. It does have a fairly extensive bibliography and an index.
--Paul A. Soukup, S.J.
Santa Clara University
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|