NewsBreak's Transformational Potential

By reinvigorating local media, can local news take back its power as the fourth estate

Writing has become a much more complicated process with many venues to orchestrate. Writing a substack post is the most personal since there is no approval process and it is distributed through a subscriber list. It feels the most direct and spontaneous. It is where one can tell the backstory, and most be one’s regular self.

When writing for NewsBreak, I am crafting a persona for a wider platform, even as NewsBreak is seeking to localize the global, which is a high concept for a moment, when after coronavirus interjected to pause the world in its trajectory toward ever-increasing centralization.

There is a new interest in local news being talked about across forums as the shift to online media has affected local news providers as it has just about everything else.

In December of 2019, The Journal of the New York Bar Association published Why Local News Matters, and What We Can Do to Save It By Penny Muse Abernathy. In the following paragraph, she describes the problem of uncovered news and single-sided narratives.

Important local news also goes unreported. A member of my local city council recently asked me, “How do you correct a story on Facebook?” As it turns out, no reporter had showed up to cover an unexpectedly contentious council meeting. The mayor’s rather one-sided Facebook post about the meeting was the only account of what had transpired – and it had been shared hundreds of times. The Journal of the New York Bar Association published Why Local News Matters, and What We Can Do to Save It

In my local community, Joseph Carpentier does a fine job of covering town meetings for the Boothbay Register. On the surface of Mr. Carpentiers, articles, it is just the facts, and the facts reported are exclusive to the events he reports about, reflecting a journalistic discipline, but still, the facts tell a story, there to be linked together by the reader.

When reporting about a public meeting of the JECD group, a public-private organization calling itself a Joint Economic Council of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor, Mr. Carpentier reports that practically every meeting included a part wherein the leader of the JECD group chided the towns of Edgecomb and Southport, also on the Boothbay Peninsula, for not contributing funds to the Joint Economic Council of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor.

The towns of Southport and Edgecomb are not officially included in the towns the JECD is said to represent, so why should the towns of Southport and Edgecomb finance the capitalization of the JECD?

The reader might find himself wondering, did the leaders of the JECD encourage Mr, Carpentier to include the disparaging of Southport and Edgecomb for not pitching in their fair share, or did Mr. Carpentier make that choice on his own? Mr. Carpenter’s choices reflect an apparently disinterested representation of what transpired at the meeting, making no editorial choices, just recording everything that went down, in a disciplinary manner of an official secretary or in the model of Cspan. The simple recording of the facts tells a story effortlessly.

However, since Mr. Carpentier is not an official secretary, to know whether or not selective choices were made, there would need to be an official secretary report, publicly accessible, and/or more than one reporting of a story. This may be the case if the local TV station also recorded the meetings. I believe that if there had been another part to the story wherein the JECD talked about the advantages for Southport and Edgecomb to joining the joint economic council, Mr. Carpentier would have reported it, and so I assume there was no part to those meetings wherein the JECD talked about what it could do for the towns of Southport and Edgecomb.

Since one of the JECD projects was an advertising fund for the dining and entertainment establishments in Boothbay Harbor during the Botanical Garden’s lighting event, it is fair to assume that the JEDC’s reasoning for why Edgecomb and Southport should pay up is the trickle-down effect, borrowed from larger central management philosophy.

By now, with the simultaneous growth of central management alongside the expansion of the wealth divide, it stands established that the trickle-down effect is just a political marketing myth. It is even more absurd to apply it locally unless one is using increased real estate values as the measure of economic development.

Which Edgecomb or Southport business gets the benefit of public dollars spent on advertising downtown Boothbay Harbor during the Botanical Gardens Christmas Lights event?

Businesses in Southport are unlikely to see any benefit from advertising downtown Boothbay Harbor during the Botanical Gardens Lightfest.

Businesses in Edgecomb on Route 27 leading toward the Gardens do not need the additional advertising.

There is one very smart business in Edgecomb, the pizzeria-bar that struggled for years as a marketplace until its current owners reinvented it as a place where the travelers going to and from the Botanical Gardens Christmas Lightfest, can get something affordable to eat in a fun environment. The success of the pizzeria has nothing to do with the JECD’s advertising campaign for Boothbay Harbor. It has to do with location, location, location- and a smart entrepreneur. The pizzeria is not lacking in business during the Botanical Garden’s Lightfest. during which it is hard to get into the pizzeria’s parking lot. The JECD does not deserve the credit or the dough, and I don’t mean pizza dough.

Why does the JECD group think that Southport and Edgecomb owe them? There is only one explanation. In the JECD’s view, economic development is the equivalency of increasing property values. Promoting the dining and entertainment industry in downtown Boothbay Harbor is good for the real estate values all over the Peninsula.

If there are several journalists reporting independently on a singular event, one can get a better measure of how and what facts are recorded, selectively or indifferently, except when all reporting and opining are so similar, that it sounds like the writers are taking their cues from an official press release.

I started blogging and researching in a media environment where there are many mainstream media resources in Maine reporting on singular issues, which, at the time I started blogging, about 12 years ago, most media pundits sounded like they took their cues, from a press release issued by the State, which is a centrally managed public-private state, aka, a hegemony.

Centralization has diminished local control, creativity, and identity, and to my experience, does not offer services to the public unless the public happens to fit central management’s programs and agenda so that taxpayers pay but do not necessarily benefit from the programs. For that reason, such services belong in the private sector. Government should be reserved for functions that are a common benefit.

One might ask if the reason the towns of Southport and Edgecomb did not chip in to finance the JECD group’s agenda is a legal reason pertaining to a requirement that the inhabitants of those municipalities have to approve such expenditures in a yearly budget.

Mr. Carpentier is a reporter in the style of Cspan. He reports the facts of the story at hand and rarely interjects a larger context, such as information pertaining to why the towns of Edgecomb and Southport were not capitalizing the JECD group’s mission. With more than one local journalist or media source reporting on diverse perspectives on a story, the larger context comes into play. All Good!

Anyone can apply to be a creator on NewsBreak and I think this is quite exciting, People creating the media. I hope to see more independent voices participating,

As I am composing this post, I was thinking about other writing venues, and occasionally jumping back and forth between them, so that I, as official persona-co-ordinator, was sporadically composing multiple stories at once. Growing up in a business in a home, I am used to wearing many different hats and switching them about, just as anyone dresses formally for one occasion and casually for another. Small business people often transcend more than one set of lines of demarcation, processing multiple channels at once, whereas the mega-corporate structure is like a grid system with well-defined boundaries and many middle managers, where everyone is expected to know their place. Today, it is interesting to watch a growing resistance to returning to that system, as “normal”, but that is for another story.

As I was composing this post, the idea occurred to me that after I finished it, I would modify it as a NewsBreak post, my first for the most local category, the Boothbay Region. I have been saving that for the last. Instead, I stopped in the middle of composing this post and published my first story in the Boothbay category on NewsBreak, titled Can NewsBreak Transform a One Party Town? It starts out almost the same as the start of this post but ends up differently. I am happy that NewsBreak gave it a CV rating of 9.

For the time being the CV rating of 9 just means that my stories get big pictures and I know that NewsBreak likes the particular direction that I am taking, but I have heard that once one is on paid status, a CV rating above 5 for a story means that it gets paid more than twice the amount of a story with a CV rating below 5.

I have been an unpaid independent for about a dozen years now. I studied the Maine economic development statutes to gain insight into the holistic design of interactive parts to Maine’s economic development policies. I bring a background of research to my analysis of current bills coming up for a vote. Because I spent years independently studying the system, I know what to look for in ways that a person without such a background might be unaware of. I am interested in the long story that reaches back to the beginning of history and is moving ever forward into the future. Where are we going? How can the past bring us a better understanding so that we can make better decisions about the future?

However, I will never reach paid status if I do not achieve 200 followers. I was hearing that people were following me but it was not reflected in my profile on NewsBreak so I asked two friends to follow me, and they both did, and finally, I have one follower, but I have no idea who that follower is. If you have followed me before, please do so again. Perhaps my followers are actually being counted now. Many aspects of how anything is counted on Newsbreak is difficult to understand. For last week it says that 100% of my Newsbreak readers were from Bangor. That makes no sense to me.

My goal is to get those 200 followers by the time I reach 10 articles.

If everyone who reads my Substack Blog followed me on Newsbreak, I would have no problem exceeding this goal. My last Substack post suddenly exceeded former readership by 50%. I have no idea why since I didn’t do anything to account for it, except for keeping on keeping on.

Please Follow me on NewsBreak HERE. Thank You Muchly.


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