How many fellow Region residents know who’s running for governor of Illinois?
If you don’t, just watch any of your basic local network or cable channels for a half hour. Chances are you’ll see a campaign commercial about Bruce Rauner or Pat Quinn.
Now how many can tell me what our governor is doing right now? This one might be trickier for a lot of residents.
Northwest Indiana has always occupied a sort of limbo between the rest of the state and Illinois, especially with the media we consume. Almost all our television channels are Chicago stations (Lakeshore is one of the few exceptions), and all the major networks are. That’s just fine for getting all our favorite TV shows, but it leaves us lacking a medium to get something more vital: the news. Since Lakeshore’s nightly news ended due to lack of funding earlier this year, we don’t have a truly local nightly newscast anymore.
We have several local radio stations in the Region, and The Times and Post-Tribune are still going. But they have to compete with what Chicago has to offer in both mediums. Plus, I don’t think I have to describe how newspapers aren’t what they once were.
While it’s not a bad thing to be knowledgeable about a neighboring state or major city, what happens in our own state and affects us directly is more important to know. And while we get flooded with media from Chicago and Illinois, most of it tells us little that we need to know about our state or the area around us.
Fortunately, we live in the age of an even further-reaching and more influential medium than any of these: the Internet. Citizens can use the web to get the news they want. But there’s still a matter of finding it amongst all the junk online.
For me, I’ve turned my Twitter account into a tool for finding the media I care about. The way to do this is to follow all the news sources you want to read. That way, instead of having to read between the celebrity gossip garbage on your homepage, your newsfeed becomes a list of just the news that you want. If you live in the Region and want to get news about Indiana, for example, that means following the different newspapers and people (mostly writers) from around the state.
For the analog, unconnected crowd, the Region’s lack of media options coming to them may be a problem. But for those with web access, there’s no excuse for not knowing what’s going on in your own state.