More than in any previous generation, the world of our minds is a media-generated world. Television, radio, magazines, movies, newspapers – they are the eyes and ears through which we reach, and are reached by, a much larger universe than we can directly experience. The messages we receive through the media shape our understanding of that larger world and do much to shape our priorities and actions.
Because of this central role that the media plays, if we are going to build a humane and sustainable world, we will also have to build it in and through the media. Doing this requires knowing the media – how to access it, how to use it, how it’s changing.
In this issue we hear from people who have successfully brought new ideas, even complex ideas, into the media. Media people reflect on their role and tell us how to use their tools. And we stretch our sense of media from the deep roots of storytelling to the leading edge of computer-assisted communications and group process.
As we’ve put this issue together, we’ve been struck by certain persistent, and often surprising, themes: New technologies are opening up new opportunities and decentralizing the media. More and more media power is coming into the hands of individuals. Even with the traditional "mass media," you can have more access and impact than you might expect.
But most of all, there is the persistent and unavoidable question of truth, of accuracy, of integrity. The media can, at best, only provide us with a representation of the world. How good is that representation? What can be done to improve it? Read on.