I can’t begin to tell you how hard my gentleman friend laughed when I told him I was going to write this column. It took a moment for it to sink in that I was going to address people who don’t read the newspaper…by way of the newspaper. I’ll begin with the disclaimer that my comments do not reflect the opinion of the Navasota Examiner. They’re mine and only mine, and fair warning, I’m probably going to be all over the map on this one because the topic has been on my mind for several years.
The catalyst for finally writing about it, however, was a rather accusatory comment I heard last week about a lack of knowledge that there was a constitutional election. It is bothersome that effort was expended to publish the 10 Constitutional Amendments with pros, cons and links for readers to make their own judgement and then hear criticism that the election wasn’t publicized.
Yes, as much as it pains me to admit this, I do understand that not everyone subscribes to the Examiner, so for those who do, I’m preaching to the choir. But I’m guessing you know the people for whom this question is intended…just exactly WHERE do you get your news? And just exactly WHERE do you get the news of Grimes County?
Like many people my age, I grew up with dad reading the afternoon paper in his easy chair after work, or frankly as my husband did, the morning paper and a cup of coffee on the “john” before work. My father-in-law in rural Wharton County sat at the kitchen table listening to the local radio station every day and reading the El Campo Leader front to back when it came out once a week. Back then, getting the news was as natural a part of life as breathing.
The local scene was supplemented by the “big three” networks at 6 p.m. I’ll admit it was disturbing to eat supper and hear the daily body count from Vietnam or watch the Challenger explosion or the first attack on the World Trade Center, but mom, dad and kids received a daily dose of news by osmosis. That doesn’t happen anymore. Families don’t eat together. Cable and satellite television have become too expensive for many. Subscribers to satellite radio prefer comedy and music to news, and social media feeds the current need for “instant” everything through posts and tweets.
Yes, you can “stream” news but that’s sort of a solitary activity. I mean, how many people gather their family around the laptop with that same thirst for knowledge as the WW II generation who gathered around the radio for FDR’s “fireside chats?” As for local television, the odds are you’ll get sound bites without the facts when it comes to news of Grimes County.
To bring my ax grinding full circle, a common characteristic of those who don’t have a reliable source of local or state news is the attitude that their lack of knowledge is the fault of someone or something else. The days of the town crier on Main Street are long gone, but if they weren’t, these folks would complain that they weren’t standing on THEIR corner.
Being informed is no longer a passive activity. Knowledge of current events has to be sought. So, if the media of choice is the worldwide web, it would be wise to utilize city, county and state websites to know what is going on in your neck of the woods, or better yet, stop by or pick up the phone and call! The accessibility of elected officials and government agencies in Grimes County is one of the great blessings of living here.
And just in case you’re wondering, the factual, fair, balanced, verifiable, unbiased “news” source of choice for the person encountered above is… drum roll…Facebook!
Connie Clements is a freelance reporter and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.