The mass of information

Editorial: Where the media puts its focus helps shape our world

On 4 July 2012, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva in Switzerland announced the discovery of a new particle. Physicists are almost certain it is the Higgs boson particle, validating a theory put forward nearly 50 years ago by Peter Higgs and five others.

The theory states that there is an invisible energy field throughout the entire universe, made up of Higgs particles, which gives mass to the building blocks of life.

Professor Brian Cox told the BBC it is “without doubt one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time.”

The mass of particles of matter depends on how much they interact with the Higgs field, how much it ‘clings’ to them. Some particles are slowed down by the field, giving them more mass, whereas some, like particles of light, are less affected.

In a similar way, there is a ‘field’ of information pervading our lives. What it clings to are facts and ideas, and it gives these ‘mass’. Where the media puts its focus, effects the weight given to different pieces of information. Inevitably, this influences our thoughts, conversations, beliefs, choices and actions. In telling stories about our world, the media doesn’t just reflect our reality, it also helps shape it.

In taking responsibility for its crucial role in shaping our social consciousness, the media has the opportunity to not only inform people about the world’s problems, but to also expose the solutions.

As we continue to question the mechanics of the universe, so must we continue to question the mechanisms by which we communicate about our world.


The autumn 2012 print edition of Positive News includes a number of articles showing that there are increasing calls for the media to provide a more realistic balance of good and bad news, and to take a more solutions-driven approach. To get Positive News in print, please support us by becoming a member.