The success of a democracy hinges, in part, on the free flow of news and information.

And to maintain that flow of information, certain conditions need to be in place for the press. One of these conditions, theorists contend, is media pluralism, the existence of many, diverse media outlets that can present a cross section of news and a wide range of opinions.

That’s the theory—but is it working?

A new book coming out of Fordham’s Donald McGannon Communication Research Centerand Fordham University Press argues that the concept of media pluralism has been stretched to suit different political purposes, reduced to empty catchphrases, and become mixed up with consumer choice and market competition.

According to Kari Karppinen, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Social Research at the University of Helsinki, Finland, the concept needs to be rescued.

In his book, Rethinking Media Pluralism (Fordham University Press, 2013), Karppinen explains that because of the breakdown of media pluralism, important questions about social and political values, democracy, and citizenship are ignored. Karppinen calls for a re-envisioning of media pluralism that puts the focus on challenging inequalities and creating a more democratic public sphere.

“Uncertainty or disagreement over how to conceptualize media pluralism is a persistent stumbling block in academic and policy debates,” said Natali Helberger, Ph.D., of the Institute for Information Law. “Tackling this difficult issue is an important, brave, and necessary exercise, and it is what this book does.”

The Donald McGannon Communication Research Center conducts, supports, rewards, and disseminates research that informs communications policymaking processes and ethical decision-making within media organizations.

Rethinking Media Pluralism marks the second volume in the Center’s Everett C. Parker Book Series, a series dedicated to the publication of research that addresses social and ethical issues in communication policy.