Dissemination of knowledge to society is now performed mainly by the media.
The job of communicating with society at large has fallen almost entirely to the media, which in its broadest sense includes a set of people who have made a profession of addressing rather specialized subjects in more broadly appealing ways.
Many of these popularizers of knowledge have performed a valuable service, by keeping us in touch with developments that we would not otherwise have much hope of fathoming. But others have played a less uniformly beneficial role.
This is mainly because they are not subject to the judgments of knowledgeable professional peers in the same way that more traditional experts are. Their more significant accountability is to their publishers, whose primary function is to generate profits through sales. Also, in many popular nonfiction subject areas, such as self-help, relationships, and business, authors' theses cannot be proven in a completely empirical and conclusive manner. Publishers therefore have little choice but to let the marketplace decide what's worthwhile and what's not.
The cumulative effect has been to render the contemporary promotion and distribution of books and ideas more similar to the marketing of general consumer products than to earlier forms of publishing. This has, in its turn, altered the way in which writers approach their readers .
(c) COPYRIGHT 1998 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.