The way we see the world depends a lot on what we’re watching – either intentionally or what’s jammed in front of our faces. I spent the early part of my journalism career as a business reporter and editor, watching intentionally the issues specific to the business community. I didn’t pay much attention to local government issues, unless their intersection with business put them right under my nose.
Over the years, my worldview changed. We founded The Chronicle in part because we felt that our local government deserves more media coverage on an intentional, routine basis, not just when a perceived “scandal” surfaces.
So Chronicle coverage routinely includes details of how local government bureaucracy works, what decisions are being made, who’s making them and why, and how taxpayer money is being spent.
Unlike decisions made at the national level, it’s conceivable in a community the size of Ann Arbor – or even the whole of Washtenaw County – for individuals to understand and influence what happens here, especially if they’re armed with information.
In November 2008, after its launch a couple of months earlier, The Chronicle covered its first election. The presidential race between Obama and McCain sparked passion and drew crowds to the polls in Ann Arbor, most of them voting for Barack Obama.
I was reminded of that exhilarating night this last Tuesday, when I spent much of the day dropping in on polling sites in Ann Arbor’s primary elections for city council in Wards 2, 3 and 5.
Last Tuesday, I didn’t see much passion and there were no crowds. No lines at the polls, no dancing in the streets. It didn’t feel like many people were paying attention.