ROAR OF THE CROWD by Michael J. O'Neill


How Television and People Power Are Changing the World
Email this review


 A perceptive, albeit none-too-sanguine, appreciation of the literally earth-shaking ways in which space-age communications technologies are reordering the world in the wake of the cold war- -which they helped to end. Opening with a fast-forward account of how video images made the difference for Boris Yeltsin in his 1991 confrontation with reactionaries, O'Neill (former editor of N.Y.C.'s Daily News) assesses links between the increasingly expansive transmission of audio/visual information and the convulsive events that have become today's norm. To begin with, he argues, TV has broken the knowledge monopoly of literate elites, affording peasant populations a historic opportunity to claim full rights of citizenship in what promises to be a world society. Informed in real time about their counterparts in other lands, people everywhere are taking a greater interest in public affairs; given this circumstance, popular sovereignty could be extended into areas as yet untouched by democracy. As much in sorrow as anger, the author notes that political leaders (elected or not) must now be telegenic if they are to hold the attention and allegiance of vital constituencies. O'Neill also points out that governance could prove more difficult as the electronic revolution helps create demands not easily met in formally captive nations and industrial powers alike: Among other unfortunate consequences, today's tuned-in, switched-on world is laboring under an information overload that makes it dangerously unstable. While O'Neill offers no comprehensive proposals for keeping civilization's uneasy peace, he suggests that responsible news-gathering organizations could engage in preventive journalism by making an effort to address causes before they become calamitous results (e.g., inner-city riots). Provocative perspectives on a McLuhanesque principle--the medium is the message.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8129-2078-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993