Extra, extra, read all about it … somewhere | Moment's Notice

By Mar | Aug 09, 2019

“Were it left to me to decide if we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” – Thomas Jefferson

Recently, the second round of Democratic debates finished in Detroit. That same day, Puerto Rico’s outgoing governor named a surprise pick to take over for him when he steps down amid scandal and protests.

That same day, the Washington State House of Representatives voted in a new Speaker of the House after Rep. Frank Chopp filled that role for nearly 20 years. The new speaker, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, also happens to be the first woman to hold that post in our state.

Oh, and the Fed cut interest rates for the first time since 2008, and Washington state announced a hepatitis A outbreak, a rarity in past decades – all on what seemed like any given Wednesday.

If you weren't glued to a social media feed not made up only of like-minded adults, or are a local news junkie, or are reading the back page of the newspaper or the tiniest of scrolling news on cable channels, you might have missed some or all but the dramatized debates.

The mainstream headlines did not, as usual, dig too deep, and yet, each of that day’s events will impact our daily lives significantly.

I remember the day that Roseanne was fired from her television show was the same day that the story broke that the actual death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was closer to 5,000 (not the less than 100 originally reported), but cable news outlets covered Roseanne for more than 10 hours and only 30 minutes on Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s population is about half that of Washington state, with 3.3 million American citizens living on the island. It seems that how our government responds to a natural disaster that impacted a population of Americans larger than that in 21 of our 50 states ought to be considered a significant news story.

The Hurricane Maria aftermath would be equivalent to one-eighth of the population of Edmonds killed in a natural disaster.

This edition of the Beacon is reporting the winners and losers of the local primary elections. Those of us who have been following the intensity of these elections have been following nearly every word uttered by the City Council, County Council, and mayoral candidates (despite the intensity, voter turnout remains shockingly low in primaries).

Substantially less attention was paid in the larger regional media outlets, but last Wednesday, The Daily Herald in Everett did print an overview of the offices and candidates included in the primary.

Without our community demand for accurate journalistic coverage of our local electoral future, we face the same challenge so many communities across our country face – to rely on intermittent in-depth journalism, fickle and sensationalized news coverage, and social media word-of-mouth.

I am with Thomas Jefferson on this one. Our government needs responsible and dedicated newspapers and trustworthy online news outlets, real journalists and journalism, covering the stories that actually matter to our quality of life.

Studies say we have reached a point in human development that we have Pavlovian responses to stories by or about celebrities, want to read updates on a smartphone in eight seconds or less, love a little controversy – who remembers the Edmonds #cookiewars?

It seems we humans are still capable of wanting to know enough to make educated decisions, to question our own assumptions, and to find coverage beyond the hype.

 

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