Saturday, July 29, 2006

On Journalism

On Journalism…

This summer Kara (my wife) and I went to hike the Grand Canyon.  On the way down we past a small town and it just hit me like a ton of bricks, it was one of those epiphany moments.  Democracy isn’t working.  It is stuck behind jargon and sectioned off for the elites that understand it and are involved in it.  There are so many barriers to being involved in a town council meeting.  Added to the jargon is the fact that they can just be so damned boring.  

Democracy can be exciting!  Imagine if a town council meeting was a debate about things that mattered to the community instead of, for example, the typo in section two paragraph four.  

Conspiracy theory: (take it or leave it) they hide the corporate agenda behind typos and boredom because if they debated the real issue then maybe their big polluting plant wouldn’t be given approval, so they discuss the technicalities of the law instead of the meaning of their action.  

Solution:  Put town council meetings into context and language that people can not only understand but get excited about and feel in control of their own community.  

Al Gore read a quote in his movie “The Inconvenient Truth:” “It is very hard for a man to understand something his salary depends on not understanding.”  With that in mind I am tired of old white men telling me just to be entertained and let them take care of all the boring things of running the town.  It is just really boring stuff that I am not interested in anyway.  

The old white man runs the corporations that are killing the planet – but I should be greatful for the job – ha.  They have screwed things up enough, their turn is over,  it is time for the people to decide what is good for themselves.  Not in the Marxist sense where another old white man takes over claiming the will of the people as legitimacy, but where people are aware of the issues that are affecting them at home.  

When Wal-mart is proposing to come into a community the town council shouldn’t put a public notice in the paper asking what people think of rezoning this piece of land for Wal-mart.  The question is a foregone conclusion.  Maybe there should be a town meeting asking if we want Wal-mart or a new development in the town at all.  There has to be a discussion to see if it is good for the town.  Maybe it is good for the town, I don’t know, but I sure would like to weigh the arguments and actually have some thought put into it instead of having every tide of boom and bust decide the economic and social well being of my community.  

A newspaper could do this, instead of being sensationalist.  A newspaper could broach the issues that matter to the community and provide context and a forum for left and right to meet, but not the abstract left and right, but the left and right that belong to a town.  Where both parties see things differently, but both care for the community and each other.  

A newspaper could provide a place for discourse.  

It is the revolution on a community scale.  Being aware of how we spend our lives, beyond the walls of our homes.  

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