A comprehensive work by a seasoned journalist and student of media which traces the familiar stories of Zenger-Greeley-Pulitzer-Hearst-etc., but this time as part of the panorama of issues which, on one side, shaped the media, and on the other, were investigated, unveiled, unvarnished by it. It is Tebbel's view -- or, rather, fear -- that in the two hundred years of our history, the American media have come full circle. In the colonial period, controls were tight, and works (like The Bay Psalm Book) confirmed authority, and/or propagandized on its behalf. In the 18th century, with the rise of magazines, there came a new sense of freedom, and then, excess; but with the rise of technology and an awakened national consciousness, largeness and goal orientation combined to temper and breed a sense of responsibility -- usually unfettered by government influence. That day is gone, says Tebbel; and he now sees the danger of a too powerful institutionalization, especially in the case of television. He is writing, of course, in the wake of Watergate; and in the light of recent developments his worries about media irresponsibility may prove to be greater than warranted. The problem is that this large book is a sort of popular sociology of knowledge hooked onto special pleading, and the subject of it all -- media -- is so overwhelming that the whole affair comes up sounding outline-ish only too often.