We are living through an apocalypse.
I love to think of this moment we are living through as an “uncovering”. The added benefit of using the word apocalypse in daily life is that it sounds cool. It also immediately elevates the stakes of everyday pitter-patter to biblical proportions in ways that can’t be denied based on political bias. This is an apocalypse for everybody. We are all shut down; the economy that we all participate in is fucked. For the first time, the people in DC are having the same conversation that I hear in the coffee shop.
That said, small town folks are resilient and zen af. There is more folks than I would have guessed with this observation: The grass is still growing. Doesn’t seem so profound until you consider how much grass and trees we are surrounded by compared to anyone in a suburb or an urb (is that a word?) sees. In the midst of a total meltdown, this seems like it could contribute to an entirely different experience of what’s happening. The urbs and suburbs would say: EVERYTHING IS CRASHING. While the rural folks would say: a lot of things are crashing.
We need a better apparatus for understanding the world around us. We have social media and traditional media. Social media is a lot of noise and very little signal. Traditional media is a lot of signal but with an underlying worldview that is too generic to be the voice of our area. Our local paper could help in this situation, but . . .
The daily journal is a dumpster fire. They literally offered our pizza shop the ability to be part of a Covid food guide that they were giving out as if its essential information to really help people stay linked to vital resources BUT (the hilarious kicker) we would have to pay 50 bucks per month and sign on as an advertiser. Fair enough, I guess, but don’t put the thing out there as if you care about giving your customers a meaningful resource that is in any way better than skimming the newly birthed social media page in our area which has been really up-to-date and useful and crowdsourced (I think it’s made by the Chamber of Commerce and I never give them compliments) called Farmington Region Food-to-Go. Daily Journal has such a shit presence on social media, they haven’t gotten a tenth of the attention even including all of their coverage of the corona virus.
But the Daily Journal has to use this time to drum up advertising dollars that small businesses especially don’t have. When else are they going to do it? We get cold-called all the time by radio and daily journal and have no interest in advertising. Our customers are only listening to those outlets when they must.
And before you start to feel sorry for the daily journal: their business model is designed to extract dollars out of our town. The emperor has no clothes. The thing that small towns have depended on to be the face of their community has no soul to speak of (the town papers used to) nor does it even have much of a face left. That’s the big shift of the internet, What’s Happening in St. Francois County is more the “face” of our community than any thing the journal prints. The Daily Journal has literally devolved into reporting what the internet says without any further follow-up. You can’t blame the reporters at all — they aren’t the ones extracting value out of the newsrooms.
We could build something better, but the conversation needs to just get rolling. I hope to post more content this week that helps flesh out the issues we face and how our towns can gain wisdom from this moment and move forward with something better.
PS – I think we placed in the best coffeeshop category for Daily Journal’s annual “Best of the Parkland” so I’d like to say we are really happy about that and appreciate the accolades. Plus, the reporter who worked with us is a very cool person and I hope she goes on to do incredible things whatever town she is in.