Know where your info comes from


When I bought a new vehicle last year, I never bothered to transfer my satellite radio connection from the old vehicle. We were going to let it expire when the contract ended, and I didn’t think I would really miss it.
I listened to one station if I listened at all, and I am quite comfortable driving around listening to the thoughts in my own brain. If that becomes a struggle, there is always the connection to my phone and I can fill the air from multiple apps.
For some strange reason, however, the radio in my new ride pops on every time the car is started, so I set the dial to a local station, one I listened to before my truck-driving husband shared his satellite radio with me.
I had forgotten how important local radio can be. From breaking weather reports to hearing interviews with local people, I started paying attention to what was on the air.
Local radio and newspapers have always been competitors when it comes to the advertising revenue needed to operate. For the most part, however, it’s been a civil rivalry and a recognition that there was room in town for both.
As the internet has drawn people into a dicey ocean of information and misinformation, both newspapers and radio have struggled to navigate the changes taking place.
Newspapers cut staff, and radio stations did the same, changing some hours from live DJs to recorded materials.
Everyone tried to use technology to our advantage, and some great advancements came out of our need to adapt.
Sadly, a lot of businesses haven’t survived, and there are fewer and fewer ways for people to get locally sourced information.
Now, we are hearing a lot about network television. As streaming platforms are offering an array of products, local content is seeing a huge audience decline.
A lot of people do not concern themselves with the changes. There is no shortage of ways to get information these days. In fact, the opposite is true: we are bombarded by information.
In some ways that is good. If school releases early, you can get a text from the school district. You can also get instant messages about weather.
There is no harm in getting your information straight from the source when it comes to snow days or tornado warnings, but if you have to rely on your government, local, state or national, to tell you what they are doing, at some point, I’m going to guess that you will be lied to.
There are entities right now with a strategy to pull you away from local news coverage and to rely solely on their social media or website for your information about them.
They are not doing that to make it easier for you to get information; they are doing it so they can control the narrative.
I understand that there are some communities now with little to no local coverage. Members of those communities struggle to find real news. I shudder to think about how easy it is for those local governments to make bad decisions without local oversight and accountability.
Newspapers, radio stations and local television are all changing. As those changes take place, I hope we will all keep in mind the need for local information and accountability. Whatever model or models we develop for the future, they must keep local citizens informed and give people a voice, and there must be an outlet for reliable, independently produced information.
Some governments control information through force. That may not happen here, but what could happen is that government controls information because officials support laws and a marketplace that stifle free speech.
Be careful who you believe, and know where your information comes from. Content manipulation is not just a national issue. It’s much closer to home, and it’s a threat to our democracy.

Thank you for supporting local journalism.
Click here to Subscribe.
Click here to donate.