As a research and educational institution, the Acton Institute has always held that its advancement of a “free and virtuous society” must reach the widest possible audience to be effective. You don't change the world by shutting yourself up in an ivory tower.
You may think of Acton's research, publication, and communications efforts as a spectrum that, on the one side, starts with serious, well respected academic work and, at the other, reaches into the popular media of newspaper commentaries, talk radio, and online media such as websites, blogs, and podcasts. Video will be an increasingly important tool for Acton in the future.
All of Acton's intellectual work is based on the firm foundation built by the institute's research department and its flagship publication, The Journal of Markets & Morality. Other communication vehicles include books, monographs, policy papers, Religion & Liberty, the Acton Notes monthly bulletin, and the weekly online Acton News & Commentary newsletter. Acton understands its various audiences, and reaches them where they are.
Why is this important? Because the “war of ideas” on religious, economic, and social issues is waged on many fronts. And very often, media such as television and film produce the most lasting changes in popular opinion and cultural attitudes. That's why left-liberal types like Michael Moore and Al Gore are in the documentary film business today.
Writing in 1949, the economist F. A. Hayek pointed out that socialism was a movement launched by an elite group of intellectuals who worked on newspapers and journals and communicated through speeches to convince the masses of the need for their program. “The character of the process by which the views of the intellectuals influence the politics of tomorrow is therefore of much more than academic interest,” Hayek said.
Today, the ideas that advance freedom – or hinder it – are advanced globally and instantaneously with the latest information technologies. Acton is working to ensure that its message, needed now more than ever, will be heard in that raucous marketplace of ideas.
Kris Alan Mauren