At midnight on December 31, 1999 the church will begin to celebrate the third millennium of Christ's Incarnation, the third millennium that will dawn on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
It is entirely possible, however, that most of the world will be watching the ball drop in Times Square.
We are living in the midst of a secular society, one that might well be more interested in a hotel room overlooking 42nd Street than one with a view of St. Peter's.
This is the world to which Pope John Paul II sent Tertio Millennio Adveniente, an Apostolic Letter that could be seen as a master public relations plan for celebrating the birth of Christ. One might wonder how well the plan can be executed, given the world's competing systems of information distribution and control. Will the Incarnation be the focus of the turn of the century? Will December 31, 1999 signal a holy year, the Jubilee Year 2000? Or will the world's eyes be turned by the various communication media to the issues and icons of four years hence: the replacements to Michael Jackson, Brad Hunter, Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson?
The answer lies within predictions about the ways in which the world media will develop and be controlled in the next few years, about whether print or broadcast or computer will dominate information systems.
For the most part, print media-brooks, magazines, newspapers--are products of their societies. They reflect the individual and collective points of view within language groups. In some cases, their views are significantly common to humanity, and so they are translated, initially to cognate language groups and perhaps eventually to cultures farther and father away. In most countries, there is still a broad range of opinions and outlooks available through print media, but print media are slow to respond and expensive to access. Insofar as print is being transmuted into electronic systems, it will survive and possibly surpass broadcast media …