Consolidation and Change.
The 1980s was a decade of consolidation in the media, as huge television networks were bought up by even bigger companies, small publishing firms were cobbled together into multimedia behemoths, and small-town newspapers were bought by nationwide chains and changed into local voices of a national editorial policy. Because almost everyone read newspapers and magazines, listened to the radio, or watched television, the decade's "merger mania" in these businesses received more public attention than in other industries. The money involved in all forms of media—both profits and losses—climbed to astronomical levels. The American public was confronted with a staggering array of new magazines, cable channels, movies, and books, as well as relatively new media such as videotapes and audiocasette recordings of books.
Even the local newspaper familiar to most Americans was changing. The national newspaper USA Today hit newsstands in 1982 and within four years had a daily circulation of more than one million readers: not a large enough audience to turn a profit, but enough to concern the owners of its local competitors. To compensate, papers around the country began to emulate USA Today's style, which relied on eye-catching color photographs, charts, and snippets of sports and...
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