Lacunae

Pronunciation: /ləˈkjuːnə/ Forms: Pl. lacunæ, lacunas.   Etymology: < Latin lacūna a hole, pit,  lacus lake>  n.  1. In a manuscript, an inscription, the text of an author: A hiatus, blank, missing portion.    (Oxford English Dictionary)

What’s missing or might have been included in the book:

Technological circumvention of media monopolies

One of the book’s main themes is that revolutions in communication are frequently accelerated by technologies designed to circumvent bottlnecks in social and political communication.  Many instances of technological circumvention are mentioned in the book, such as the development of the telephone to circumvent the telegraph monopoly, or the use of Samizdat (hand copied) newsletters in the USSR in the 1970s and 80s to circumvent heavy-handed state censorship.   Here are other instances that could have also been included in the book:

Rock n’ Roll music —  Musicians and comedians with social and political messages communicated through LP (long playing) records when their ideas could not be expressed through mainstream media.  Rock n’ Roll music was banned in the Soviet Union until the 1980s, and is still heavily restricted in China and some Arab nations. Peter Dreier and Dick Flacks have written  a short history of music and social movements that addresses some of the issues.

In the US and Europe, only the “safer” versions of Rock n’ Roll songs were aired by radio stations, so the “real” version with the stronger social messages would be found on LP records and at concerts.  The folk music group Peter, Paul and Mary sang about this in I Dig Rock n’ Roll Music.  (“But if I really say it, the radio won’t play it, unless I lay it between the lines”).

Underground press — Sporadically published independent newspapers from the “underground”  were used to circumvent mainstream political and social discourse in the US and Europe during the 1960s and 70s .  Usually these newspapers were perfectly legal, although obscenity issues were a constant problem.   They took on the mantle of an underground resistance as a way of enhancing their images. (Sweet are the uses of adversity, as Shakespeare said).    The Berkeley Barb, the Washington Free Press, the Richmond Mercury, and many thousands of others were started in most large and mid-sized cities during the time.

Panama, 1980s — Another instance of an underground press was the role of once-legitimate newspaper and TV journalists in fighting the dictatorial rule of Manuel Noriega of Panama in the late 1980s.  “Nunca mas” was the often-repeated slogan in the videos. The former newspaper reporters would print up underground newspapers depicting Noriega atrocities and pass them out in crowds to undermine the regime’s claims to legitimacy.

Iranian Revolution, 1979 — To prepare Iranians for the 1979 revolution against the Shah,  audio cassette tapes of patriotic songs and sermons of Ayatollah Khomeini were distributed clandestinely.  Archives of the tapes are found here.

Bibliographic lacunae

Several books on the history of mass media helped inform my views but were overlooked in the bibli0graphy. These included:

Carlos Barrera, Historia del Periodismo Universal  (Ariel, 2004)

David Spencer, The Yellow Journalism, The press and America’s emergence as a world power (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 2007).

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