Knowledge Is Power

Article excerpt

Media, Information, and Politics

With fervent idealism, the media have long embraced their role as the fourth estate, casting themselves as objective protectors of political accountability and the truth. Yet this characterization seems increasingly blurred in today's world, where changes in the communication of information have transformed the way that media and politics interact. The media have become more widespread, touching people around the world, and more personal, integrating with peoples' private lives to a degree that has never been seen before. Even the very nature of mass media has changed, from the centralized broadcast agencies of the past to the fast-paced distributed networks of today. In short, the mass media have both broadened and deepened their influence on public opinion. And with this increasing influence has come the realization that the mass media interact with political systems, economies, religion, and societies to a greater extent than ever before. This issue's symposium will explore many of these interactions.

The influential political, and social theorist, Benjamin Barber, opens the symposium by analyzing the impact of the Internet on democracy. …