By Mike Rosso
I don’t watch network or cable television. Because of this, I don’t have access to the 24/7 news cycle, but am aware that the sheer volume of information flowing from TV, newspapers, magazines and the internet may be rendering some folks numb to the rapid changes occurring all around us.
My choice of national and world news outlets is pretty specific. Mornings often begin with a quick glance at the news found online. For the sake of sanity, I’ve been avoiding headlines with the name Trump in them. I’m too busy trying to focus my energy on my own backyard to be distracted by the orange-colored orb preoccupying many Americans (and other global residents). I also subscribe to The Week magazine, most of the region’s newspapers, and occasionally I listen to NPR.
Not to say I’m ignoring the combed-over elephant in the room, it’s just that I can muster only so much outrage, with little recourse to affect meaningful change. I am becoming concerned for my fellow citizens who are watching this train wreck and agonizing over the implications. Events with real-life consequences are happening so quickly, many people seem to be thrown off kilter, with negative implications for us all.
Phone calls to our representatives might help us feel engaged, but they can also act as a placebo, making us feel better but not changing any policies or minds. It seems this might be a good time to use our energy to affect change locally.
I fear for the nation’s collective mental health in the face of such an onslaught. I’m also observing it more frequently in the unsettled behavior of random folks with whom I have contact. It is a curious time to be publishing a monthly magazine during this barrage of digital information. These days, news has a very short shelf life, so we work hard here to present articles and stories which are more timeless and not subject to the rapidly changing news landscape.
Unlike many online news sites, our website comments are reviewed before being approved and rarely lead to rapid dialog from opposing views. Folks still send letters, and we highly encourage that, but many have become hooked on the immediacy of the comments section, whether on Facebook or on the New York Times online.
One positive aspect of this is more people are becoming engaged in the immediate dialog, although I don’t believe many minds are being changed in online comment threads. It’s more of an affirmation of what we already believe. But it is a dialog, nonetheless.
Is there a solution for maintaining accuracy with the ever changing methods of news delivery? Of course, I’m going to suggest it lies in the model we’ve chosen; the monthly magazine, but most of you already know that.