Shut up and listen

Now, more than ever, we need people in the news business to confront the truth.

It’s expensive. (That’s the stuff of another reflection.)

There is no cutting corners, and that practice has been going on too long.

Those of us in the business have got to acknowledge that it is the individual stories that carry the weight.

The turn of the general election should be a very big clue.

Those who correctly predicted the turn of events were in the trenches of the campaign or who bothered to listen to the discontent or paid attention to the signs…

…Oh, and correctly figured that nearly 50 percent of those eligible to vote stayed home and realized the an uncounted host of people aren’t even bothering to register.

At my little weekly, when asked if I want to talk with a campaign person, a candidate, or a person in state or national office, I respond with a simple, “No, thank you.” What’s important to me is getting the local stories out there, not the opinions or proposals of the politicos who want to influence me…

…As if my little publication can do more than it can. I won’t be party to soothing a representative’s ego or plans.

What’s important is the record, what my representatives do in the halls of power and with the money that’s pumped their way. That’s the job of those reporters who haunt the halls. Reducing the number of reporters there is criminal. That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s where the absurdities of our system need to be explored and brought to light, as well as the good things that happen.

I can see why the ordinary Joe feels left out. The news business is not doing its job. In the case of my little weekly, in the distant past, the pages were filled with local opinion and stories of everyday life, real stuff, not news releases or carefully crafted stories meant to pave the way for the career of individual news gatherers.

You see, the story is the thing, the story of a couple marrying, of a community grieving the death of one of its members, of the crimes and misdemeanors of the populace, of the recipes that make homemakers proud, the paragraphs about who visited who, the babies born, the rich, rich texture of everyday life in a community.

If the business stops telling those stories, it loses touch with the very basic underpinnings of the political realm. That’s why so many outlets missed the “surprising” election returns.

So, I return to my theme: We’re all reporters. As the industry declines because it’s losing touch with the very folks it has been trying to interest, it’s up to story tellers of all stripes. That’s one reason I prowl the web. If those stories are not reaching the pages of our publications, they can be found here.

If you have a story, tell it. If you know of someone with a story, encourage them to tell it. If they are not able and are willing, you tell it or find someone who will. That’s a high calling. And, if you are a paid journalist, for Pete’s sake, find those stories and publish them.


One thought on “Shut up and listen

  1. There’s a lot to respond to here, and I’m going to think about it a bit more. But, I did come across something this evening that, while not directly related, is nonetheless interesting. You can find it here.

    I agree with your point about stories. I honestly believe people don’t want pablum or propaganda. They want reality: sometimes in small, comforting tidbits, and sometimes in the form of big, meaty bones that they have to chew on for a while.

    Beyond that, most people can sense when they’re being held in contempt, and a whole lot of people decided they were tired of it this election cycle.

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