There are three ways to look at how society is informed.
The first is that people are gullible and will read, listen to, or watch just about anything.
The second is that most people require an informed intermediary to tell them what is good, important or meaningful. The third is that people are pretty smart; given the means, they can sort things out for themselves, find their own version of the truth.
The means have arrived. The truth is out there.
Throughout history, access to news and information has been a privilege accorded to powerful institutions with the authority or wealth to dominate distribution. For the past two centuries, an independent press has served as advocate for society and its right to know — an essential role during an era of democratic enlightenment.
It feels like a new era has been thrust upon us — an era of enlightened anxiety. We now know more than ever before, but our knowledge creates anxiety over harsh truths and puzzling paradoxes. What is the role of the storyteller in this epoch? How will an informed, connected society help shape it? How does the world look when news and information are part of a shared experience?
For more than 15 years, NDN and The Media Center have provided prescient insights about the changes confronting news, information and media. We commissioned We Media as a way to begin to understand how ordinary citizens, empowered by digital technologies that connect knowledge throughout the globe, are contributing to and participating in their own truths, their own kind of news. We asked seasoned, visionary journalists — innovators like Dan Gillmor, technology columnist for The San Jose Mercury News, and news media editor-author J.D. Lasica — to help frame a conversation about the promise and pitfalls of citizen-based, digital media in an open society.
The conversation is just beginning. I have always believed that a good story gets around. At some level, We Media will reveal something about society and the way people learn from each other.
— Dale Peskin
Co-Director, The Media Center
Next section » Foreward by Dan Gillmor