Communicast: I read the news today, oh boy

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I read the news today, oh boy.

Collage of headlines |photo by Keith Spiro

No, actually I didn’t. I stopped reading the daily print a long time ago. It’s not timely compared to digital and social media channels and it carries less and less relevant information about things and people I care about. Their online version also created elaborate paywalls insisting I pay to read or pay to support their form of journalism. Maybe you think you know which paper I’m talking about but this story has digital legs that reach much further than you can imagine. If you think it ‘your’ daily newspaper, so be it, you are probably right. The problem is universal.  Bad news is everywhere.  But who thinks we want to read it? And isn’t it disconcerting to see everything politicized? The headlines and the politics they represent disappoint me, and they disappoint others. I released a version of this, which has become a call to action,  in my monthly column, “The Boston & Maine Connection.”


Published in The Cryer, it launched there first, because they’ve raised the bar and the standards to meet readers where we all are, where most of us want to be; informed but hopeful and exposed to examples of goodness.  Give us something worthwhile to read and give us facts and let us choose where our time and attention belongs.

You are reading this here and now in The Manchester Ink Link because the InkLink is actively working to change the way media operates. Carol Robidioux and her growing team are committed to building community, connecting people and breaking down rather than building up barriers to engagement and connection.  She is actively engaging new voices to be heard in an open and inviting digital forum to support the many and diverse voices that live and work in and around Manchester. There need to be some guidelines to ensure civil discourse but unbiased reporting of news and stories of interest in the digital age requires an editor and community input. The InkLink has amplified my community work too, by acting as a distributor of Communicast  where I seek out and highlight the great things good people are doing.

We all play a role in determining what happens around town, which businesses thrive and who comes out of this time of uncertainty and change better and stronger.  We speak with our time, our attention and our money. It’s about survival but it is also about opportunity.

It’s time to recognize and articulate what we really care about and this “pandemic-induced reset” gives communities control like never before.

The gatekeepers and trusty rusty old formal rules have fallen. Bad news is easy to find and it travels fast and sells newspapers. Good news, however, requires a whole different headset. Self-care, helping others, recognizing the heroes in our communities with tangible useful thank yous. These acts abound. Media needs to pay more attention to it. If your paper or social media channel doesn’t do, abandon them. Don’t buy it. If you’re a business don’t pay for ads in manipulative channels that fuel dissent and division. We are right now seeing major businesses that have stopped funding Facebook with their Ads for 30 days. It’s a test. Make it work. Be the customer, not the product being sold and support organizations that support connection and community.

We are in the thick of a global pandemic. I never knew back in January that my first column of the year highlighting three words, “journalism, communication and Leadership,” would play such an incredibly pivotal role in how we get through this.

Here are some things that are working for my clients and for me:

Social Media:  Instagram. A much underutilized & poorly understood communications tool. Images. Fewer words. You don’t need a gazillion hashtags. Some brands use it right, many don’t. Some individuals use it really well for social causes and positive narratives that affect change for the better.  Check out @pazbici @kelseykobik  & @goransonfarm

Zoom & Google Meet:

Live and fully interactive. Scary for some who need to control every experience but person-to-person interactions get results. Facebook live and all streaming apps just unload a one-sided message and hurt themselves and their users by discouraging real-time interaction. Think human  not machine language. But not too many of these each day. Zoom fatigue is a real thing.

Work from Home:

Set times, schedules but also set aside time to recharge. Take a walk from one side of your house or apartment to the other and do something different there. Change focus for 20 minutes – read a real book (not a screen-based one if you use a screen for work). Choose a genre you’ve never considered. I read my first horror fiction, Emma Gibbon’s Dark Blood Comes from the Feet. Pandemic perfect.  Teach yourself one new thing every week. You are already baking, cooking and gardening , right?

Make a Phone Call: You’re holding or looking at that device most all of the time. Use it as a phone remembering  there was once an ad campaign themed “reach out and touch someone.”  You still can. You should! And ask how are they REALLY doing?

About this Author

Keith Spiro

Advisor & ContributorManchester InkLink

Business Strategist, Community Builder with a keen interest in working with high-impact startups and other organizations that can make a difference in community and health.