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Free Flow of Information and Profit?

“Free flow of information” has become a slogan and a virtue of U.S. democratic ideals. Yet, behind this free flow of information there is a long history of how US foreign policy, political and economic interests are intertwined within this slogan. UIUC professors Schiller and Sandvig locate and contextualize current U.S. state dept. of Information policy on “free flow of information.”

The free flow of information precept attaches more specifically to US history. It was crafted by US corporate and governmental elites to serve foreign policy goals over many decades. Early in the 20th century, free flow was used to spearhead the interests of US submarine cable companies and, above all, US news agencies such as AP and UP (perhaps the Google of their day), which were trying to gain entry into markets controlled by entrenched European cartels. After World War II, vested in the raiment of human rights, free flow was used as an ideological club against the Soviet Union and China – even as it also served to help prise open “Third World” markets for cultural commodities including films, musical recordings, television programs and news

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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