News as a source of unity and community

Information defines a community. Knowing the same things about certain matters engages a group, energizing them with ideas and opinions.

News serves as a glue that holds societies together, enabling them to see themselves as one, shaped by a shared fund of knowledge which reflects their common concerns and interests.

Travelers who stopped at these gathering places related news from their journeys, connecting the receiver to things unknown; just as today’s reporters are accredited to be present at meetings and events that not everyone can attend, allowing them the experience through the journalism. 

The early newsletters provided empty pages, so that others could write down their reactions. On the much simpler medium of paper and ink, the exchange was nevertheless a “conversation” involving people who may not have ever met or known each other, a more primitive form of today’s social media. The exchange then as today served as glue that joined together different members of society. Slower in speed of dissemination, the interaction nevertheless carried ideas. Communication made possible growth and enrichment of human horizons.

Technological advances moved this conversation from paper and ink and from printed words to electronic and digital platforms. The medium shaped the transformation of the message and its delivery to a wider and bigger public, with speed, through instantaneous and simultaneous transmission. In a previous era, before digital gadgets broke down the dissemination of news into private individual channels, great moments of history were experienced together even when though they may have been in different place. 

Modern journalism has been valued for the shared fund of news and views on significant matters that it offers. This common knowledge has served as the basis of citizenship, which involves individuals as members of a society, living according to political arrangements accepted by leaders and citizens. News builds community and the sense of belonging to a larger entity than one-self or family, clan or tribe.  

In our information age, all this is made possible by revolutionary technology that allows an individual to be in touch with developments around the world — 24-7. Systems of communication expanded as communities grew.  Global institutions exerted influence over the international developments and news had to keep up.  But we have yet to guarantee that these individual receptors are not losing their connections with one another and their identification as a community.

Even with so much going on, and so much available information, the press enables citizens to participate in their own governance, to remain sovereign and independent in the way they think.  While connected to society and as part of the public forum, members of society learn from the media even if they themselves do not directly participate in the discussion of or debate over issues that affect everyone in society.

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