This past weekend, I went to a ONA [Online News Association] Conference. They provide trainings, awards and programs to support digital journalists. ONA has been around since 1999 with chapters all over the U.S. including New Orleans, which started last year. I was able to meet journalists, editors and content creators from online news and traditional media, most of them create or manage digital content, and they were able to share innovative practices newsrooms are taking on. Topics from the conference included, creating a healthy news environment, collaboration between newsrooms, digital innovations in traditional media, and trust in the media, which is a specially relevant in today’s political climate. These days the word media has a bad connotation thanks to a certain popular phrase,”fake news,” but it’s because we’re letting corrupt politicians define what it is. It’s not a monolithic source of opinions, but a diverse array of stories based on research, presented through different mediums. As journalists, we should strive to build a back and forth conversation with our communities, instead of the one-sided, traditional approach.
What is there left to say about this election? With every piece of news we all become a little more worried, a little more stressed. I’m at the point where I want to ignore social media and not read one more piece of news, not one more video telling us who’s the next apprentice or the number of hate crimes appearing, or how Native Americans are being kicked off their land once again, or the continued ignorance on global warming, the list goes on. But we must stay vigilant. There’s a way to approach these dire times by settling into our thoughts and remaining intellectually active in this post-truth world, where few value history or science.
Sometimes we’ll be lucky to get some facts on social media, other times we have to search through the speculations about tweets of the day brought to you by the orange man. Despite everything, somehow we have to land on what’s important, finding out what’s actually happening in government, and not controversial tweets meant to arise anger and confusion. Rise above the anger, the meanness, the hate, and live. Try to talk to people who are not part of your circle, people who might not share the same political ideology. Right now it’s two sides screaming at each other, unwilling to listen to one another.
Still, it’s becoming frustrating that even with facts some people continue to believe fake stories, despite being presented with a mountain of evidence. How did a man who lies so much become president? A sexist one at that. It’s the greatest downfall for America. I think Trevor Noah said it best: it’s because people try to throw facts at him, but it doesn’t stick.
Eddie Huang, writer and food personality, has a show on vice where he travels around the world, trying food and exploring different cultures. He interviewed a girl during the election, who didn’t know her facts from her conspiracy tales. Watch his reasonable approach to an onslaught of conspiracy theories. He isn’t condescending or overly dismissive. As the great Gwen Ifill once said, there’s a difference between skepticism and cynicism.
People voted for a salesman who will say anything depending on the crowd, but what matters is the kind of legislative action he’s planning to take, and from his rhetoric we clearly recognize a pattern. He’s the president of twitter trolls. Someone who probably never read the qualification section of a job, and is making up stuff on a whim.
Like many of my friends, that first night, I was speechless, sitting in a bar, in some western town, as the votes came in. “It’s turning red—don’t even look,” I told my friend, who had accompanied me that night. I turned around and I could see the gloom painted on everyone’s face. Some chose to leave abruptly not wanting to see the final moments on the screen. I still had fries left, and my Glühwein, a German drink, was still half full and warm. I wanted to lose myself at the bottom of the glass when it appeared that no one was saving the day, especially after Pennsylvania was gone. “Ugh man, did that just happen?” A girl near us had her hands over her face, in disbelief, covering her nose and mouth; I imagine wanting to scream. I finished my drink, and we stepped outside. My friend was finishing his cigarette, when I saw two guys stepping out of the bar. “Why does this feel like a match? And my team just lost,” one of them said. When did our democratic election turn into a match? This was a farce, evident months ago when Bernie Sanders lost. The only one, who stuck to the issues and had a responsible plan to fix them.
Some people are hoping the Electoral College will save us, or by some miracle Hill will have more votes after the recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Perhaps it’s a waste of time, but at least people are speaking out, protesting, calling their representatives, remaining active. I wrote a poem to the Electoral College to express my views on why they should vote against their state, and vote for Hill instead. You can write electors a letter through asktheelectors.org. The count is almost at 100,000 letters last time I checked. Maybe it’s naive or silly to send a poem, but one founding father, if not all, would agree going against the votes in those states is probably the best way to avoid legislative casualties that will weaken our environment and the economy.
a moral choice
sitting on the grass and not seeing an oil rig
or birds swimming in oily mud
what is most valuable in our society?
our dignity, our sense of well-being, the future of our kids.
the 45th president is….do you imagine saying that name?
“take back our country”
from what? from who?
from our founders?
you know those jobs are not coming back
why contaminate our lands
when you can have
clean energy, furtive lands, tech innovations
that will be around for generations
and will allow people to move back to small towns
where our families don’t get sick from dirty water
he’s a con artist, a celebrity,
who has never read a book
once asked what he thought about his life
he said: I don’t like to reflect.
drain the swamp
he’s bringing the swamp with him
people who are not qualified
it’s for this reason the founders
thought it was important to have a group of
to make a moral choice