Enough About You

We've made the media more democratic, but at what cost to our democracy?

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The problem is that there's a lot of information out there that citizens in an informed democracy need to know in our complicated world with U.S. troops on the ground along two major fronts. Millions of Americans have come to regard the act of reading a daily newspaper--on paper--as something akin to being dragged by their parents to Colonial Williamsburg. It's a tactile visit to another time ... flat, one-dimensional, unexciting, emitting a slight whiff of decay. It doesn't refresh. It offers no choice. Hell, it doesn't even move. Worse yet: nowhere does it greet us by name. It's for everyone.

Does it endanger what passes for the national conversation if we're all talking at once? What if "talking" means typing on a laptop, but the audience is too distracted to pay attention? The whole notion of "media" is now much more democratic, but what will the effect be on democracy?

The danger just might be that we miss the next great book or the next great idea, or that we fail to meet the next great challenge ... because we are too busy celebrating ourselves and listening to the same tune we already know by heart.

Williams is anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News

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