paper are indifferent to the words that are inscribed by one on the other. Twitter is notcapable of formulating an agenda.But here it is: the democratization of journalism. And somewhat belatedly, some of us
are recalling that the Founding Fathers weren’t all that enamored of pure democracy,
when they were crafting what would become our system of government.We would, after all, elect people to represent us in
doing the nation’s business.
Andthen, of course, there was the judiciary; and what came to be called the Fourth Estate
the press. Checks and balances! Representational government!
not democracy, forhea
The American public, it was feared, was too likely to be swayed bypassions of the moment.And that, of course, was long before our time; when the American public is keptinformed, round the clock, of the votes
sometimes even the intentions of theircongressperson. Now we are exposed, round the clock, to a partisan haranguedesigned to inflame our pre-existing biases. Now the voters can instantlycommunicate their displeasure directly to the office of their elected representative.What would have been unimaginable in the 18
century has become commonplace inthe 21
. More than ever before, we live today in a world of instant reaction, constant judgment and corrosive partisanship.Political debate is a wonderful thing; but partisan shrieking is corrosive anddestructive. If we are to find solutions to the challenges we face, we have to re-learnthe virtues of compromise.If we are going to deal intelligently with the problems we confront, we need time topause, to consider and reflect. But our media, news and social, are intolerant of anything but an instant response. We are making and receiving endless observationsabout the trivial, and believe that we are communicating. I am left with a feeling of not just great opportunities missed, but with a sense of actual danger to our republic.Much of our journalism is a catalogue of what just happened, without any regard to itsimpact or importance. We have a greater capacity to communicate more, further andfaster than ever before. Rather than using information to illuminate the world, though,we consume it like fuel. The more we burn, the faster we go. The faster we go, theless we see and understand. We slow down only for the accidents along the side of theroad; and the biggest accident still lies ahead.Only, I fear, when that occurs
only when the combined impact of too manyunemployed, too many foreclosures, too much debt, exacerbated by two undeclaredand unfunded wars; only when the human and social costs of a crumbling educationsystem and a flawed health care system, leave us wondering where and why we lostour footing as a nation, will we come to realize that WHAT is communicated to us isvastly more important than the medium by which it is conveyed.Some are already posing the question; but one day, most Americans will point at us inthe news media and
say: “Why didn’t you tell us?
Why did you encourage all that bileand venom? Why did you feed us all that trivial crap, when so many terrible thingswere converging?