The history of American media is in many ways a history of market failure. Yet these recurring patterns almost always go unrecognized in mainstream policy discourse. Because media are special kinds of goods and services, the market’s failure to provide them is particularly deleterious for democratic governance. The “public good” qualities and other characteristics intrinsic to media result in a kind of systemic market failure that cannot be entirely eliminated. However, this market failure can be reduced or compensated for via public policy that recognizes the tremendous positive externalities associated with a healthy media system.
Published in Volume 31, Issue 2, pages 153-159