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A lot to look forward to in 2024

A lot to look forward to in 2024

If 2024 were a table laid out before you, how would you imagine it: a beautiful, feast-laden smorgasbord of rich and tasty dishes with succulent sides, or an after-dinner wreck piled high with crusted up dirty dishes, overturned wine glasses and already eaten carcasses of dead birds and picked-over porcine bones? 

In more simple terms, are you a glass half full or glass half empty person?

Reality is seldom that simple for most of us, including me. In the journalism biz, we are often accused of focusing on and perpetuating the negative, or highlighting the divisions in our culture versus those things we have in common and what brings us together.

I plead guilty, especially when it comes to political stories. There’s little doubt that to cover this era’s political messaging and what candidates are doing and saying means there will be aggressive quotes and angry news. Politicians and their minions have normalized a bitterness toward their opponents that has — over the last 25 years or so — become the norm.

People and politicians aren’t punished these days for being crude, and indeed many are rewarded. Words and actions that were once deemed reprehensible have slithered down into the debate that takes place at the most local level of politics.

I’m not sure how we — by we, I mean this country, our culture — are going to manage a reset on the tone of political debate. In Ezra Klein’s 2020 book, “Why We Are Polarized” — I’ve read excerpts, not the entire book — he argues that the political polarization in the U.S.  has grown as people’s social identity has become intertwined with their political identity.

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Take any issue — race, climate change, the economy, immigration, education, abortion, international relations — and the disagreements are profound. More to the point, we accuse those we disagree with of being our “enemy,” or worse that they are lacking “American values” or “Christian values.” Once we descend to that kind of finger pointing, finding common ground or a way to compromise becomes all but impossible.

Blame it on the popularity of cable news talking heads, the vast social media echo chambers and even the growing lack of responsible and ethical local media outfits like ours, but the problem of covering politics and having winners and losers feel they got fair media coverage is becoming ever more difficult.

But when assessing the credibility of local media, let’s remember that we cover a lot more than politics. Every week we write about your neighbors and friends, whether it’s about efforts to help laid off Pactiv Evergreen workers find jobs, a school board member giving their time to help children, a sports fanatic sharing the benefits of discipline and hard work with young athletes, a retiree helping build a home for a family in need, local volunteers working to rescue abandoned pets, or the remains of a pilot missing in action since the Vietnam War coming home to be buried.

Just as political stories tend to dredge up divisions, these kinds of stories exemplify what we share as a culture and what we have in common as Americans. We have a lot more in common than we might disagree about.

I’ll leave it at that. Glass half full. Life is short, I can’t imagine living any other way. Happy New Year.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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