OPINION: Strong local news sources make strong communities

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

By Rickey Cole

JA Guest Writer

Everything changes. The longer we live, the more changes we see happen.

Before the turn of the current century, there were two major sources of record for news of current events in Southeast Mississippi that were available for a few cents, freshly delivered seven days a week. Sure, there were TV stations and local papers and even local radio, but the regional news of record for the Coast and the Pine Belt came from two buildings: one on DeBuys Road in Biloxi and one on Main Street in Hattiesburg.

Folks complained about The Sun Herald and The American. Some complaints were legitimate, and some were just the background noise of our culture. But we relied upon these robust institutions to keep us current and informed on what we needed to know to live in these places in those times.

Like abandoned palaces after a devastating war, these empty shells are stark reminders of how much life has changed in 30 years.

We now have a trillion sources of information at our fingertips, updating and by the millisecond. A few may be reliable, but those are needles in a haystack. Nevertheless, folks gobble greedily from this miasma of disinformation, misinformation, malinformation, and noninformation and spew it out upon us all like a virus.

I used to think that knowledge was power, and when information came to us in manageable streams from reliable sources, it was.  As Sen. Moynihan said, in the last century people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Today, reality itself is subjective and cutting through the torrent of propaganda, stupidity, and bloviation every day is a Herculean task.  

Sometimes I wish I could just read the paper, watch John Chancellor and Randy Swan, and feel as though I have heard enough not to worry about the rest.

We need a new paradigm for local news. For those of us who still have local news sources, it’s up to us to support those efforts — when we are involved, we gain the power to help those sources evolve and report accurately. Otherwise, we are cast to sit by and watch those without our communities’ best interests at heart take the reins and means of our information sources. Unfortunately, that world may be closer than you think. 

Rickey Cole is a farmer in Jones County and is former Chair of the Mississippi Democratic Party. He currently serves as the Party’s Fourth District Chair. He is a seventh generation Mississippian.

Republish This Story

Copy and Paste the below text.

OPINION: Strong local news sources make strong communities

By Jackson Advocate News Service
March 25, 2024