Our Current Situation: The Power of the Powerless

REINVENTING THE NEWS: It’s no secret there are substantial problems with news, ‘the media’, journalism, etc. The right criticizes and mocks MSM (mainstream media) while the left criticizes and mocks ‘corporate media.’ The Venn diagram overlap here is large. Yet, our news structure continues because of the misbegotten notion that if they are pissing off everyone, they must be doing something right.

It’s time for a reinvention.

Let me recommend James Tyner’s “Dear news media: Create news for people who have never read a newspaper” as a good place to start.

“For young people who are just trying to learn about the world around them — people who were previously uneducated about Medicaid or who owns which conglomerates or the history of elections — it’s important to provide information that is as complete as possible. And more importantly, it’s important to show diverse perspectives that are unlike those they already hold.”

My dream news media combines C-Span (for primary source civic information), Wikipedia (for background and context and history), Vox (for explanations of unfamiliar topics, preferably something a little more neutral that accurately explains the various positions held by the different players), dedicated journalists (to doggedly investigate), and smart pundits to offer their perspective on how this fits the bigger picture.

I’d also like a pair of pundits, clearly marked ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ that attempt to make their opponents’ argument in a way the opponent agrees is a fair interpretation.

I’d also like some follow-up. How did the story end up?

The newspaper was once ephemeral, tomorrow’s fish wrap. This had a profound, and in many ways, negative impact on news/journalism/reporting. Online news is persistent and should do a better job of providing civic information and education that’s of value to everyone.

More student suggestions can be found here.

POWERFUL: I’ve been reading Vaclav Havel’s “The Power of the Powerless,” and it’s well worth reading as a reminder of what life is like under a totalitarian government, and the power the people have to resist.

“You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.”

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PRAGMATIST DEMOCRACY: In my parallel news universe pundits interview Christopher Ansell so I have a better understanding of what he means by ‘pragmatist democracy.’

“Drawing inspiration from the philosophy of Pragmatism, this book argues for a new “problem-solving democracy,” where public agencies build consent for public policy by engaging the public in active problem-solving. More so than legislatures, public agencies serve as linchpins between popular sovereignty and on-the-ground governance. For pubic agencies to play a different role in democracy, we must re-imagine how they function as organizations and interact with the public.”

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MONEY MONEY MONEY: Tom Perez is now chair of the DNC and there’s a lot of work to do. The Republican Governor Association is out-raising the Democrats, and have already started raising money for Virginia’s governor race.

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BARBARA JORDAN: “We are a party of innovation. We do not reject our traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances, when change we must. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future. We have a positive vision of the future founded on the belief that the gap between the promise and reality of America can one day be finally closed. We believe that.” — 1976 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address

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GOVERNOR TO SENATOR: You’ve probably seen this tale of Trump’s dinner (and his childish taste for overdone steak covered with ketchup) but what I found intriguing was the presence of Governor Rick Scott. Scott will be term-limited in 2018 and Trump wants him to run against democratic Florida Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson’s not a flashy Dem, but he’s a good soldier and a reliable vote. I doubt there’s anyone in Florida who could beat him in a primary, but I’m not certain he wins against Scott.

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THIGH-HIGH POLITICS: Lauren Duca continues her consciousness-raising at Teen Vogue with a regular column titled Thigh-High Politics. In this edition she points us to the handy Resistance Calendar by Michael Moore. There looks to be about 35 organizing/protest events today across the nation.

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MISINFOCON: Excellent wrap-up from MisInfoCon.

Find out more about MisInfoCon here.

“At MisinfoCon, a summit this past weekend hosted by the First Draft Coalition, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and Hacks/Hackers, the focus was on an immediate and executable range of actions: checklists, educational campaigns, tech solutions, community engagement projects, diversity efforts, and improving business models.”

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AGAINST EMPATHY: Understanding is important. Empathy? Not so much.

“I want to make a case for the value of conscious, deliberative reasoning in everyday life, arguing that we should strive to use our heads rather than our hearts.”

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OUT OF TIME: That’s it for this week. It’s already a long week, and it’s only Wednesday.

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