A friend who reads a number of national newspapers and magazines told me this past weekend she has grown weary of the nonstop coverage of President Trump.
She’s not alone. Reader fatigue is setting in. Select any mainstream national newspaper, flip through a serious magazine, turn on television news … the topic de jour is Trump or his administration.
Like my friend, I’m finding personal limits. Agatha Christie’s “Marple” mysteries on Hulu streaming service is proving considerably more interesting than the latest breathless installment of President Trump and his merry men.
Perhaps editors should consider assigning reporters to cover stories about something (anything) else.
Reporters won’t turn away of their own volition. Good ones (and thankfully, we are seeing the best in the business hard at work), immerse themselves in the topics they cover. They become authorities of sorts, sometimes to the extent they know more than anyone could ever want to hear.
This can lead to turn-of-the-screw stories, the equivalent of the unwelcome uncle at a family gathering who tells repetitive and boring tales. One forces a polite smile while eyeballing the nearest exit.
Eventually, kin quit listening to the uncle. Eventually, when newspapers and magazines lack balance and a sense of proportion, subscriptions are not renewed.
The saturation coverage of this administration is understandable, because Trump has rekindled the fires of a free press. Interestingly, the president who disdains journalists is emerging as the surprise savior of American journalism. Thanks to 45, even in this age of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the importance of independent, skilled reporting is undeniable.
Reader fatigue isn’t a concern confined to covering national politics. For months, the Herald has covered two issues to the point I fear we are inducing more groans of boredom than yips of excitement.
Since Jan. 1, we have published 15 or more articles, columns or editorials about unrestrained growth in Cullowhee. We have published six or more articles, columns or editorials about the steep impact fees charged by the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority.
That’s a lot of ink.
If readers shudder when they see yet another local headline about development in Cullowhee or expenses related to water and sewer, if they feel they can no longer endure one more national story (good or bad) about President Trump, should we and other publications stop reporting and publishing these articles?
Of course not.
We’ve had one pedestrian death in Cullowhee already thanks to a lack of sidewalks on narrow two-lane roads leading to the private student-housing complexes. Meanwhile, our elected officials have done nothing to strengthen the ordinances and control these (largely) out-of-state student-housing developers, who, statements not withstanding, are unlikely to feel particularly vested in this community.
TWSA is stifling growth of the good kind. The agency’s unreasonable fees are a drag on Jackson County’s economy, creating financial barriers that stymie local entrepreneurship. TWSA board members’ excuse for continuing to chart this course? Largely, it seems a case of, “We’ve always done it this way.”
The Herald must continue to cover Cullowhee and TWSA, though we need to be mindful of balance. And there is no more important political figure in the world than President Trump.
But, have mercy, my brethren and sistrens in the national press, won’t you please, on occasion, publish stories about something else?
Quintin Ellison is editor of The Sylva Herald.