Pressing Pause: Critical Reflections from the History of Media Studies

  • Brian Dolber California State University, San Marcos
  • Andrew O'Baoill National University of Ireland, Galway
Keywords: Political economy, media studies, neoliberalism, media industries, pedagogy, labour


This article examines the history of the fraught relationship between the fields of media and journalism studies and the media industries in the US and UK contexts. In the US, journalism programmes were built on instituting professionalism, and media studies arose in conjunction with the demands of a growing industry. In the UK, cultural studies developed in conjunction with the need to produce a working class that could make sense of the mass media environment. Under neoliberalism, however, professionalism in both media and the academy have been undercut, while media studies programmes have expanded. We argue that a historical, political economic orientation demonstrates that media studies faculty and students are subject to many of the same institutional pressures, providing fertile ground for new pedagogical approaches.

Author Biographies

Brian Dolber, California State University, San Marcos

Brian Dolber is Assistant Professor of Communication at California State University, San Marcos, where he teaches courses in media studies. He is the author of Media and Culture in the U.S. Jewish Labor Movement: Sweating for Democracy in the Interwar Era (Palgrave Macmillan 2017). His work has appeared in numerous journals including Communication Theory and Communication, Culture & Critique.

Andrew O'Baoill, National University of Ireland, Galway
Andrew O'Baoill is Lecturer in the School of Humanities at the National University of Ireland Galway, where he directs programmes in Journalism. He holds a PhD from the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois. Research focuses include the role of technology and regulation in shaping alternative and community media.