Editor's note

One of the big media stories of 2018 will be the proposed merger of Disney and 21st Century Fox, and American University School of Communication mass media scholar Margot Susca thinks we should be wary. In an era of unprecedented media consolidation, she points out that five media conglomerates essentially control 90 percent of the news and entertainment Americans consume. With this merger, that number will dwindle to four. Because media corporations will always prioritize the bottom line over the public good, she argues, democracy suffers when fewer and fewer companies act as gatekeepers of information.

There’s no shortage of hot takes right now about how the wildly unpopular GOP tax package, which experts say cuts taxes on the rich and corporations without offering much relief to everyone else, could hand Democrats a big advantage in the 2018 midterm elections. They don’t persuade Stephanie Leiser, a University of Michigan lecturer in public policy. “My students and I have spent this semester reviewing the history of tax reform,” she writes. “It gives us several reasons to be skeptical that voters will punish politicians for the tax plan.”

And 75 years ago, two giants of English literature were engaged in an ongoing debate over science’s role in society. Author H.G. Wells was all about the promise, while his friend George Orwell was far more skeptical. Indiana University’s Richard Gunderman writes that their argument still resonates today.

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

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Do we really want one conglomerate to control so much of the media landscape? Sergsta/Shutterstock.com

Disney's potential 21st Century Fox merger continues troubling trend of media consolidation

Margot Susca, American University School of Communication

Disney's veneer of innocence shouldn't distract people from recognizing the danger of giving one conglomerate the power to control so much information.

There are signs that non-rich Americans are growing less tolerant of tax cuts that mainly boost the wealthy’s bottom line. Reuters//Eduardo Munoz

Will Americans finally start fighting back against tax cuts for the rich?

Stephanie Leiser, University of Michigan

Historically, wishful thinking has blunted pushback.

‘Man Combating Ignorance’ – what’s science’s role? Century of Progress Records, 1927-1952, University of Illinois at Chicago Library

H.G. Wells vs. George Orwell: Their debate whether science is humanity’s best hope continues today

Richard Gunderman, Indiana University

There's no shortage of problems facing humanity. Science's role in how to tackle them has long been debated – including memorably by two of the 20th century's greatest literary figures.

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