A stronger Rochester demands more details, less drama from media


Photo Credit: Annette Lein (@bikebizzle)

In Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope, the President, from the perspective of his brief time as a U.S. Senator, reflects on early experiences with the news media and their role in moving along a political plot. Commenting on the back-and-forth between Democrat and Republican PR machines, Obama contends, “Part of what makes the juxtaposition of competing press releases [from opposing political parties] so alluring to reporters is that it feeds that old journalistic standby–personal conflict.”

Today marks the inauguration of Rochester’s first female mayor. Thanks to news media and other people in attendance sharing from Twitter, it’s easy to following the proceedings from the comfort of home. And one of Rochester’s most visible media figures seems to be embracing the spirit of that “old journalistic standby,” depicting political drama between the “old guard” of the Robert Duffy-era and the new dawn of Lovely Warren, whose background is closely associated with New York State Assemblyman David Gantt. A sequence of tweets from this reporter close with the word “telling,” alluding to the fact that neither of Rochester’s most recent mayors (Duffy or Thomas Richards) were asked to speak at today’s ceremony. As one Twitter follower responded, “oooh mid sized American city political DRAMA!”

In Audacity of Hope, Obama goes on to lament the era of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow, describing a “splintered” media, “each with its own version of reality…”

Politics aside, Rochester needs Mayor Lovely Warren’s administration to succeed. And realistically, any progress or positive movement will likely be incremental; advances will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. Whatever changes she leads, however, will require a more serious examination of reality than tales of “personal conflict” as told by Rochester’s biggest media influencers. When it comes right down to it, this is not Rochester’s true reality. After all, isn’t the election over?

Rochester’s reality lives not in the hype of drama, but within the nuance of details. Reality is confronting the trouble of voter apathy, which continues to erode local politics across the nation. Reality is the struggling state of Rochester’s public school systems. Reality is helping understand and address the region’s growth of poverty. Reality is scrutinizing Warren’s proposals from the mayoral primary on public safety, economic and neighborhood development and education. However someone defines Rochester’s reality, it needs to be more than a spectator show about the personal conflicts, whether real or embellished, between the privileged and the powerful.


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