The rituals and mythic nature of democracy and the press

The fall of Bob Woodward - The Boston Globe

The free press is an absolute value not only because the unfettered flow of information is essential to the republican system, nor only because the fourth estate serves as a check on the power of the other three, but because public expression is necessary for the communal self-awareness that keeps the body politic alive. You routinely turn to the newspaper each morning not only to learn what happened, but to stroke the otherwise intangible bond you share with the neighbors and strangers in whose company you will spend the day. Reading the morning paper is like tagging up, a literal ''touching wood," a dispelling of the darkness of night, all done in the knowledge that everyone else is doing the same thing, which gives you not only a place to start the day from, but a reassurance that you are not alone in your concern for the common good. The news media do for democracy what liturgy does for religion; what poetry does for experience; what gesture does for feeling. With words out of silence, the press tells you who you are.

This is a very interesting way of describing the role of press - almost as if made by an anthropologist. (The article is related to Bob Woodward's fall from grace but this point can stand up alone.)