Wick Communications

The down low on the shutdown

In Ideas on October 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm

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Hey, did you hear that America is closed? That’s right, this week your U.S. Congress ratcheted up the stakes in the ongoing divide over Obamacare. I won’t bore you with my interpretation of events thus far, but I would suggest to you that there are good local stories afoot as a result of the dysfunction in D.C.

I’m not talking about macro-economics. I heard someone on television last night suggest that the government shutdown will cost the U.S. economy $200 million a day. NBC news reports that the shutdown will cost $2 billion just to pay for “closed” signs and contingency plans. Maybe so. Who knows? These are the sorts of Big Numbers that make readers’ eyes glaze. They are absolutely meaningless to me.

You have to bring this mess home.

  • Some of our communities are awash in military contracts. While not a simple target, at least you can see it. Bill Hess at the Sierra Vista Herald didn’t need me to point this out. He had a nice bullet list of effects in Wednesday’s newspaper. Every one of those bullets is a separate story for an enterprising reporter.
  • You say you are lucky enough to live near a national park? What does the shutdown mean to businesses in the area? You are bound to find the owner of a local diner who has strong feelings about our political leaders. Can she quantify what a closed gate means to her daily receipts? Here’s an easy little story I did on a sliver of parkland in our area. …
  • Do you have a local road project that depends on federal funds? Is a school class planning a field trip to the nation’s capital? Do you have a congresswoman in your backyard? I bet you can think of any number of ways to bring home the current crisis.

Oh, incidentally, your reporting on the federal government is more complicated now. PR types are likely not answering their federal phones and many online databases have been shut down. (I should say I was surprised to find my National Park spokeswoman at work on Thursday. She said she is considered essential, given the media interest.) The Reynolds Center has compiled a helpful list or what’s up and what’s down.

Clay

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