The Septuagenarian Speaks – published January 2, 2019, Siskiyou Daily News

Just to warn you in advance.  Today’s column is a mish-mash of free-association.  Random thoughts with no discernable coherent thread.

2018 has been good to me for a lot of reasons.  For one, I survived another year of late-stage septuagenarian-ness in good health.  My family is healthy and doing well.  I still have a few septuagenarian years left and hope they are as good as 2018.

A “thank you” to the editorial staff of the Siskiyou Daily News.  Not being a trained journalist, I wondered if I could write a newspaper column that someone might actually read.  Skye Kincade and the SDN editorial staff provided me an opportunity to give it a try, and the feedback has been gratifying.

Although I am probably preaching to the choir or you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place, I want to commend the Siskiyou Daily News, KSYC, and all other local newspapers and media outlets throughout the United States.  They are becoming a dying breed.  While national media organizations like the Washington Post, Fox News, and the New York Times are alive and well, according to Report for America, local news organizations have all but collapsed.  Some 1,300 communities have lost local coverage since 2004.  In 2004, one in seven reporters lived in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles.  By 2016 the ratio changed to one in five.

Why should we care about this?  Don’t we get the full political spectrum from the national news?  Everyone knows that the Washington Post and New York Times are ideologically left, and Fox News is ideologically right.  That is all well and good when it comes to national issues such as the Wall, health care, pulling out of Syria, tariffs, right-to-life, General Mattis’ resignation, and gun control, among others.  Those issues do affect us locally and we need to be aware of them.  But there are local issues that affect us as much if not more.  The dams.  The construction of a new court house, which the state government squelched by stealing the money at the last minute.  (It will be built, by the way, if I don’t jinx it by writing this column.  Groundbreaking starts soon.)  The fact that our local governments don’t have sufficient funds to maintain their public assets.  Mountain lions.  Our inadequate jail.  Wildfires.  I could go on and on.

We must support our local news media.  Not only do they give a voice to our county, but also to the small out-of-the-way communities within.  And they provide an important watchdog function.  Tell your friends to renew their subscriptions.

So much for my rant.  I told you at the outset of this column that I didn’t know where I was going with it.  In keeping with that, I will close with a riddle, totally irrelevant.  Something you can ponder when you try to fall asleep tonight.

Rene` Descartes walks into a bar.  One of his friends sees him and says, “Yo Rene`.  Can I buy you a drink?”  Descartes replies, “I think not.”  Here’s the riddle:  What is the next thing that happened?

Happy New Year!

Bob Kaster
Yreka, CA

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