For centuries, change and uncertainty have defined the modern world—and for longer than most of us have been around, media has been central to how we orient ourselves in it and decide its future. Today, with change accelerating and uncertainty spreading, media increasingly determines what we see, how we understand it, and ultimately how we all relate to one another.
Now, technology and culture are combining to shape this situation in ways that would have been hard to predict before the last few years. The digital social networks that drive the distribution of media output to consumers have refined advanced capabilities in using algorithmic learning to predict, manipulate, and monetize user emotions and behavior. The news industry feeding these networks has, meanwhile, become a battlefield for elite moral and political conflicts, leading to coverage that can feel bewildering and alienating to those on the outside. In this context, there’s an atmospheric pressure to embrace dogmatic belief where we have the opportunity to think, defaulting to conflict over communication. Trust in this whole ecosystem has been falling for years. Data shows it. Everyone feels it in some way. It’s an intuitively experienced reality.
The Signal is for people who want something different. We share a firm commitment to liberal democracy, and a deep belief in humanity, but above all we’re in the business of complexity at a time of chronic change and uncertainty. We understand that no one owns the truth, that those who think differently from us often know something we don’t, and that what any of us does know is always overshadowed by mystery. Which is why everything the The Signal does starts with questions, and every answer we find leads us to more of them.