Terry Wroblewski, graduate of Cornell University, spent nine years researching communication methods used by regional planners who worked for government agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations and private firms. Research identified three separate and distinct methods for public communication: top-down, bottom-up and lateral. Each communication type has an applicable or reasonable use in one or more phases of planning. Top-down communication is controlled by an institution that retains full agency over its message and distribution. The term top-down means of or relating to a hierarchical structure or process that progresses from a large, basic unit to smaller, detailed subunits. Top-down messages travel in one direction: from the institution to the people. Bottom-up refers to public communication whereby the communicative agency shifts from the institution to the people. Bottom-up pertains to or originates with non-professionals, the common people or lower ranks of an organization. Bottom-up communication travels in one direction: from the people to the institution. Lateral communication provides for a third, wider reaching model - a communication style without privilege: all parties engage at an equal level. Lateral communication travels back and forth, to and from the people, institution and stakeholders. It is a participatory process providing an alternative form and function for democratic practice, social understanding and civic efficacy. This book unveils some of Wroblewski’s findings in a historic narrative that tells the history of documentary film in western democratic nations 1870-1970. It was during those formative years that public communication evolved alongside documentary films and shaped our world. Studying information in this book provides a practical understanding for anyone who communicates in the public realm. This includes creating effective messages as well as being more thoughtful about public and private media. What is documentary film’s significance? A simple answer lies in film’s ability to reach audiences both literate and illiterate. It also lies in film’s power to persuade. Cinemas of this study are national and serve a larger ideological purpose, to understand how democratic governments use film to consolidate culture and promote hegemony. The films reflect unique paradigms and are important cultural artifacts, many with a world audience. Studying these films adds to the rich tapestry of history, providing insight into the political climate of the time as well as how norms and beliefs were encouraged. For this reason, government documentary films are worthy of investigation.