Thursday, April 13, 2006

News sense

by Steve Sherman, DI columnist

This is a columnist writing about column writing. If you don't care to read, then that's fine by me - go look at this, and call it a day.

But regarding column writing in this newspaper, I'm gonna do a little bit of research right here.

First, this is a Google news search for "george w. bush."

This is a Google news search for "iowa city, ia."

Regardless of the news itself, notice that the search for Bush yielded 24,200 responses, and the search for Iowa City wielded a meager 292. There are already 24,000 more articles written about our president then there are about the place we live in.

This place, being Iowa City, is not being represented as much in the national scope - and for obvious reasons. The mandates of Mayor Wilburn do not, it is safe to assume, have an affect on foreign aid received in Kabul. Bush serves more people, and his policies affect people worldwide. Iowa City has a very nice independent bookstore and a bar whose name is an oral sex reference.

But the fact remains that there are only two publications in our city, and when columnists choose to ignore what happens in this city, their voices are only added to 24,200 decibel din of perspectives on national issues. Though I am confident in the skills of our writers, it's safe to say that an opinion of Mark Simons does not carry as much weight as that of, say, David Brooks - simply, not as many people read the DI.

I'm saddened every day I read a column about George Bush, or FEMA, or Bill Frist, because when the columnists choose to ignore local issues, they allow Iowa City to become a non-space, only a backdrop for them to form their thoughts. It is not an interactive urban space - it is only an apartment and a school. And so when critical thinking of skills are never applied to the very space they live, they are, in effect, deeming it as worthless. Which is odd, considering the title of the paper in which their columns are published is called "THE DAILY IOWAN."

And though praise is due for those columnists who raise a reader's consciousness (for example, giving a perspective on national issue which they never heard or a new fact with which to view a situation), I believe these analytical skills have other uses, and its saddening to see columnists who never address local concerns. You can act globally, but, please, columnists, think locally.

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