Our Global Backyard

Steven Brill and Margaret Carlson

Our Global Backyard

Steven Brill and Margaret Carlson

Our Global Backyard
An email conversation about the news of the day.
April 28 1999 1:42 PM

Steven Brill and Margaret Carlson

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Dear Margaret,

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The point about institutions having weakened is really important, and it goes beyond the need to be recognized differently (i.e., as famous on television). It's also why the media in general are now so important.

We don't know almost anything firsthand anymore, the way prior generations did. News that affects us personally almost always comes from "media,"--that is, intermediaries whom we have to trust. To take an obvious example, years ago the economic news that most affected us might be local: Is a new factory opening up to hire people? Now the most important economic news might come from Asia. Or, to take another example, it used to be that some of the biggest news in town was about a local trial. Everyone gossipped about it, and lots of people trooped down to the courthouse to watch. The best argument I made for Court TV was that our "community" is now so expanded that trials that we cared about weren't necessarily going on down the block where we could go watch.

So, at a time when people are more skeptical than ever about the media, they need them more. (Which is kind of why I started the magazine.)

Steven Brill is the founder and editor in chief of Brill's Content magazine. (To subscribe to Brill's Content, click here.) Margaret Carlson is a columnist for Time magazine.