BAGDIKIAN, BEN THE EFFETE CONSPRACY AND OTHER CRIMES OF THE MEDIA. Back in the early '70s, Spiro Agnew called journalists "an effete corps of impudent snobs," mainly because the Washington Post and the New York Times wouldn't leave him and his boss, Tricky Dick, alone. The majority of newspaper publishers, who were and are parochial and further to the right than George Wallace, agreed with Nixon. Not a whole lot has changed since the early '70s.
BAGDIKIAN. THE MEDIA MONOPOLY: WHO OWNS THE MEDIA?. Things have changed. Most big newspapers and chains are no longer owned by the local town powers--they are owned by conglomerates. There have been two editions of this book. The first came out around 1980, and said that 27 corporations own or control the media of this country. A later edition came out in 1988 or 1989 and said it was 11 corporations. In 2000 it's about 6. Worldwide. If not for the internet, we'd be even worse off.
BRAND, STEWART THE MEDIA LAB: INVENTING THE FUTURE AT MIT. All the gee-whiz hi-tech we're just now seeing came from the Media Lab. So what? Well, Brand discusses extensively the philosophy behind it all, and how these are technologies that can empower individuals more than governments. At least they're juicy enough to keep great corporate powers competing for slices of the expanding pie instead of cooperating. (Nov. 2000: never mind).
DETSKE, FRED I. KNOWLEDGE AND THE FLOW OF INFORMATION. Basic explanation of communication theory. Some math required.
ELLUL, JACQUES. PROPAGANDA: THE FORMATION OF MEN'S ATTITUDES. 1964. Theory and practice of propaganda, told with that Gallic flair for realism in the face of dirty politics. In short, the object of propaganda isn't really to change the subject's attitudes; it's to elicit action *despite* the subject's attitude.
ELLISON, HARLAN THE GLASS TEAT THE OTHER GLASS TEAT. 1975. Two-volume series of columns he wrote for the LA Free Press 1969-70, when TV was abysmal. At turns hilarious and depressing. CBS is regressing to those days. JAG is a military version of The Young Lawyers.
MCGINNIS, JOE. THE SELLING OF THE PRESIDENT 1968. Could also be filed under POLITICAL SCIENCE. Packaging the New Nixon. Blandly written, but chilling in its implications. (Nov 2000: This hasn't been news for ages.)
MCLUHAN, MARSHALL. The god of modern media. Don't be put off by his James Joyce-inspired ramblings. According to a source I've forgotten, McLuhan was great at predicting how you can express yourself to anyone around the world, but he forgot to mention it doesn't mean anything if you've got nothing to communicate or can't be understood. (Nov. 2000: er...)
NEGATIVLAND - ESCAPE FROM NOISE and HELTER STUPID (Albums). Helter Stupid is the result of an experiment gone awry. Negativland,through SST Records, issued a press release explicitly denying that a high-school kid axed his family after hearing "Christianity Is Stupid." The resulting media feeding frenzy is documented on "Helter Stupid." U2, which came out in late 1991, was suppressed by the Conspiracy (actually, an irate Island Records), but is available for postage, an extra dollar, and a 100-minute blank tape sent to The Copyright Violation Squad, P.O. Box 227, Oakdale, IA 52244. They'll put on other suppressed works such as John Oswald's Plunderphonics on the tape. (Nov. 2000: I doubt this address is valid. The CVS are actually the Tape-Beatles, and they published Retrofuturism, a newsletter about plagiarism. Now you can find U@ if you really want it.)
ORWELL, GEORGE. THE PRINCIPLES OF INGSOC (Appendix to 1984) and POLITICS AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. Essays on how language is shaped to serve those in power. Remember the words you've purged from your vocabulary because they've been hijacked by assholes. (Nov. 2000: The Fascist octopus has sun its swan song and the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot.)
SIGNAL - A WHOLE EARTH CATALOGUE. 1988? The Holy Sourcebook of all kinds of communications. (Nov. 2000: Well, it was then, anyway.)
SILVER, GARY ed. THE DOPE CHRONICLES 1850-1950. 1979. HARPER & ROW. Out of print. 100 years of yellow-journalistic hysteria against drugs, jazz, alcohol, and prohibition. Lotsa cool editorial cartoons in which the coiling serpents and ravening wolves figure heavily. Robert Williams, eat your heart out. (Nov. 2000: Official hysteria reigns, abetted by the New York Times, but sanity is slowly returning to the voters).