On the Media
January 1, 2000
for a new century.
The case can be made that
the media, in general, became the most powerful institution of the past century…and
that journalism, in particular, established itself as the form of communication
best able to capture the struggles of that century.
Here are twelve, rather
different hopes for media and journalism in the new century:
- First, that technology
will not make communicating seem so easy that we are unprepared for the inevitable
and repeated realization that really communicating is hard.
- Second, that media and
journalism won’t continue to grow so large, so powerful and so pervasive that
we continue to lose our abilities to entertain and inform ourselves.
- Third hope for the new
century, that if newspapers do finally succumb to the competition with newer
technologies, whatever replaces them will be damn good. And that whatever
may replace newspapers will be portable enough to peruse with breakfast, in
- Fourth, that we and
our children and grandchildren will have the luxury of living in less and
less newsworthy times. That, in other words, journalism may not be the form
that best captures the twenty-first century.
- Fifth, that, even should
we be so fortunate, humankind will retain sufficient interest in civic affairs
to prevent news from being totally overwhelmed by entertainment.
- But, sixth, that the
exploration of kinds of news that go beyond civic affairs will continue to
broaden and deepen.
- And, seventh, that,
even if times are good for many, journalists will not lose the critical spirit
that might help make them better for more.
- Eighth hope for the
new century, that digital and video communication will begin to achieve the
revolutions not only in art but in thought that writing and printing -- after
similarly inauspicious starts -- achieved.
- Ninth, that humankind
will discover – in art, in thought – new methods of mixing its mushrooming
doubt with invigorating, if circumscribed, conviction.
- Tenth, that knowledge
will not only be distributed but organized and accessed with such efficiency
that humankind’s attachment to myths and superstitions will further weaken.
- But, eleventh, that
the flood of facts won’t wash away the seeds of ideas.
- And, twelfth, that no
amount of information will lessen our awe and astonishment at the wonder of
Happy new century!