As close readers of this blog know, I spend just about all my time on two hard things: My day job is fixing the disinformation crisis and my hobby is fixing Daylight Saving Time.
Every once in a while they coincide.
When I’m working on Daylight Saving Time I work with a politicians who are all over the map. Right here in Colorado the two biggest names in fixing DST are about as opposite as they could be politically. In fact, they are so far out there that they are a little bit out there within their own parties. But they both believe in fixing it so that the government-controlled clock isn’t killing people.
My approach to dealing with politicians who I may or may not agree with is to never talk about anything other than Daylight Saving Time. That approach has served me well, and we’ve gone from zero states with any kind of bill passed to 15 states, and we have gone from zero federal interest to two bills with lots of bipartisan support.
I would continue to work that way, but after the attack on the Capitol on 1/6, I just can’t.
But what should I do? What is the right response?
I’ve sincerely struggled with this, and had some long talks with my family about it.
Then because of my day job, I saw an answer from one of my professors from a long time ago when I was in what was then called the "J-school" at NYU:
"Countering the big lie." https://t.co/MT9t4a7UZl— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) January 29, 2021
This is amazing. Public radio station @witfnews in Harrisburg, PA, recognizing "these are not normal times," takes a stronger stand for truth and accountability. Here is the spirit we need after January 6. Read their statement.
I saw that, and thought it was great.
My first reaction that made it on to the Twitter was that it didn’t go far enough.
I think this is great, but they could also refuse to cover any of those politicians, except in the case of them either apologizing, or taking other authoritarian actions. All other activities get ignored. Why give any air to those who undermine democracy?— Scott Yates (@scodtt) January 29, 2021
Someone from the station thoughtfully replied:
Our newsroom discussed several ideas for how to adjust our coverage, and we determined ignoring these lawmakers would hamper our ability to report the news. Instead we settled on offering context.— WITF news (@witfnews) January 29, 2021
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the people at this public broadcaster were right. (Thinking while Tweeting doesn’t always lead to the best result.)
So, in that spirit, I’m going to do the same thing. I’ll keep interacting with politicians who sought to undermine democracy, but every time I write about them, I’ll put an asterisk next to their name, and say what they did, and I’ll link to this post.
I know that what happens on my #LockTheClock blog may not be the most important vehicle for defending democracy, but I figure we all need to do our part, and this is what I’m doing.
So, thanks WITF. If nobody else has called it the WITF Rule, well, allow me to be the first, and I hope that many other publishers will follow your lead.