I like to think that I’m a reasonably forward thinker when it comes to technology. I rather like gizmos and gadgets, and I often find new technologies exciting and intriguing. That said, I do worry that we lose more than we should when it comes to news and information, when we rely only on the doohickey in our hands. (We used to call them “phones” back when they were, well, phones and not open portals to the entirety of human knowledge, plus a place to play Farmville.)
And although the evidence seems to be increasing that I’m becoming more and more of a luddite, such as my recent purchase of a new computer keyboard that mimics, in key shape and sound, an old manual typewriter, I’d be grateful if you would indulge me yet one more time as I leap atop my rickety soapbox of idealism, and ask that you keep reading widely to stay informed, even if it is reading on an electronic device.
I was reminded of the importance of reading the news regularly just this past weekend, when I came across a full-page ad in the Colorado Springs Gazette, featuring a huge head shot of Sen. Cory Gardner, declaring in a large font that Gardner “is breaking his promise to protect Colorado’s public lands.” The advertisement, placed by the Sierra Club of Colorado, is evidence that the idea of a newspaper ad being influential is not dead yet. I don’t know if the Sierra Club also posted the same ad widely on social media, because, again, kind of a luddite here.
After reading through much of the Sunday paper, I turned to ColoradoPolitics.com, which I recommend you do daily, of course. There I came across a very interesting story about Colorado’s other member of the upper house, and my old boss, Senator Michael Bennet. Columnist Lynn Bartels wrote about a very important and yet very underreported story, regarding the apparent dichotomy of Michael Bennet — he can’t seem to break through the 1% barrier in national polling, but whenever he sits down with folks like newspaper editors, he regularly gets written about very positively. No less a national figure than George Will wrote back in July that Bennet could well be the Democrats' best chance to defeat President Trump.
So within just a few minutes of perusal, first with a traditional paper-and-ink newspaper and then with an online news site, I was able to read about much more than the far shallower “whose winning today” type of journalism.
Finally, in a story you are not likely to see on your local TV news broadcasts, Chris Osher reported on an important but easy to overlook story about who might soon become a judge in the state judicial system. Osher’s report notes that one of the names submitted to Gov. Jared Polis for possible selection is a person who resigned from the Denver DA’s office due to behavior that would seem, to say the least, not be appropriate in a sitting judge.
The late Walter Lippmann — journalist, writer, and commentator — is said to have remarked, “the job of a free press in a free society is to inform. Not that it will do so perfectly at any one time or from any one source.” Simply put, we must consume news and information from a number of sources, and we must not be swayed by only ingesting one point of view.
Even more scary is a president who tells the people that all the media — or at least media that say critical things of him — are the enemy of the people, and that only his words should be considered truth. That notion is as timeless as it is dangerous. The path to power of many a tyrant and despot includes an admonition that truth is both absolute and from only a single source, the despot. Such claims today should fill us with dread and press us to action.
I admit, it’s possible I’m overstating a bit. An advertisement seeking to influence a Colorado senator, and a story about op/ed folks liking a particular candidate, may not be the most vital information in an upcoming election. A report on a possible local judicial vacancy being filled by someone who would not appear to have the best temperment for that job will hardly change your day-to-day existence very much. But, dear readers, I urge you to relish the freedom of the press that such critiques provide. And perhaps, just perhaps, it would be a good thing to put aside the advert on your phone that can tell you which Kardashian you most resemble and take the time to read about local and state news.
Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.