A Break from Scheduled Programming

 In my red State, there are several blue counties. I happen to live in one of these, and our chief commissioner issued a stay-at-home order on March 25, 2020. On the same day, the county health department determined there were too few coronavirus test kits, and the intensive care is full.

On March 26, 2020, the mayor of the county seat followed suit issuing a” Stay at Home” executive order. The other nearby blue county-has a blue city in it. You may know of this city, as it is home to the world’s busiest airport and the state capitol. The mayor there issued a stay-at-home order on March 24, 2020. She also made the decision based on health officials’ warnings. They said being too close, and in constant contact with others would increase the duration and deaths in this pandemic. 

image of executive order points
Executive Order Office of the Mayor City of Atlanta

So, why the State’s governor allegedly told the press yesterday, he didn’t know asymptomatic carriers could spread the novel coronavirus is baffling. The virus, experts say, causes COVID-19. Oh, did I mention my State is also home to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Yes, the CDC and the governor are in the same State. So, for the governor to be clueless about the ways the coronavirus spreads was a bit confusing. Especially since on Saturday, March 14, 2020, the Governor signed a “public health state of emergency,” which outlined why this virus is dangerous.

Well, maybe, he wasn’t clueless. Perhaps the governor was referring to the CDC’s April 2 report regarding presymptomatic transmission when he mentioned:

Well, we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours“. 

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp

In an early release, the CDC reported on the presymptomatic transmission. The report, dated April 2, 2020, indicates the newly infected person can pass on the coronavirus before they exhibit the first symptom.

Asymptomatic means the infected may never show signs of infection at any stage of the disease.

Presymptomatic means the newly infected hasn’t exhibited any signs yet. Eventually, the infected will experience symptoms. 

The CDC released the presymptomatic report within those 24-hours the governor referenced. Whether it was the slip of the tongue or ignorance, the governor still made the call to announce the state-ordered Shelter-in-Place protocol. The order is in effect beginning at 6 pm April 3 until April 13, 2020. Consequently, the latter is the same end date on the March 14 public health emergency declaration.  

So maybe what’s giving me pause, is why the news media focused their reporting on what he allegedly mentioned and NOT his action.  

Ok, I’m lying.

I know why. It’s “because – ratings.”  

Sensationalism to get high ratings is one of the many things I didn’t like about broadcast news and, I refused to play that role while reporting. I didn’t believe in destroying someone’s reputation to get ratings. Controversy and character assassination take the focus off what matters to the public.

As a news reporter, I had to fact-check my stories before broadcasting. I also had to use primary sources whenever possible. This is especially true of mainstream news media. Journalists research or at least they are supposed to find facts. Not going to other media sources for information but getting it right from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Therefore, before running with that story, a conscientious reporter could’ve asked for clarification. Of course, it means taking the chance of not being first. 

Still, fast and wrong is wrong.

And wrong, in this case, meant they missed the plot twist that the Newly INFECTED can pass on the virus before they exhibit their first symptom. 

We can spread this potentially fatal virus as presymptomatic, asymptomatic, and symptomatic carriers. And this new information brings us to today’s protocol of wearing masks when in public.

So, don’t let the news media use legerdemain, on you, to fatten their bottom line. The governor’s “I didn’t know” was a titillating talking point. Still, once you fact-checked his assumption against his actions, you quickly realized his response was in direct opposition to his actions.  

Ergo the reporting wasn’t “fake,” but in their haste to get a provocative news angle, they missed an opportunity to update this still-developing story. 

So how can we, the public, get the story when news reporting goes off the rails? Well, we can focus on what is vital to our health and safety, especially when the news media wants us to look elsewhere.

  • If you’re privileged to have access to the internet – use it! You can fact-check the news gatherers. Begin with primary sources. If your state, county, and municipality are like mine, there will be an interactive government website or websites available to you.  

    -AND if your government is fancy, they will also have a government and public access television station that broadcasts local government information and community activities.

    For example, during today’s viewing of this direct unfiltered information, I learned the Secretary of State sent out absentee ballot applications. All 6.9 million eligible voters can vote in the May 19 presidential primary election by mail or in-person.   
  • If you like your news filtered, however, hyperlocal media might be for you. Hyperlocal news media outlets are popping up across the nation. With hyperlocal news, reporters disseminate government and community information generated in your town or city.
  • The two hyperlocal media groups I know of are Patch and Tapinto that deliver local news as it happens to your email inbox.

Now, back to the governor whose possible misquote landed him and his 2018 gubernatorial democratic opponent as a top trending topic on twitter Thursday into Friday.

He also held the frontpage headline of every primary news website. If I were his press secretary, I’d take the loss. His blunder turned into a big win for the State of Georgia. For a short time, we had the nation’s attention.

According to Patch News, we have more than 1000 residents hospitalized. In my county, as of Tuesday, March 31, 2020, we’ve had three reported deaths and 66 cases related to COVID-19. For our health and well-being, we’re on lockdown until after Easter Sunday. 

In today’s climate, not looking out for your interest could be a matter of life or death. Don’t let the news media or politicians play you for your attention. You have the power at your fingertips.

Be Safe, Be Well.

image of an extraterrestrialQuestion of the day. Is it just me, or have you taken an unusual interest in UFO documentaries during this stay at home period?

Ready to Sacrifice for Your Wants?

The new NETFLIX original series AR*S wants to know.

The psychological drama premiered on Friday, January 17, 2020, and not only ask what do you want but what you are prepared to sacrifice to get it.

“AR*S” stars 26-year-old Dutch actress Jade Olieberg who plays a multi-ethnic medical student who’s had enough of people in her world phoning it in. She wants more and is willing to do what’s necessary to get it. The fact that she comes from a working-class family with a mom who is struggling with mental issues -advances the series’ plot in ways that are not obvious in the beginning.

After viewing the 8 episodes, my initial reaction was the .5 % wealthiest of society will not be happy. But then this portrayal of secret societies targets any of us who “belong” to one.

Cutting to the chase and without spoilers, the series forces us to look within. It wants us to answer if we have what it takes to conquer the world or even our hamlet?

The message focuses on the family legacy, ambition, desire, and last and the often forgotten, love. The streaming series turns those concepts on its head. It reveals the greatest of these things, but without any consolation.

image of a scene from Netflix series ARES
Photo Credit: NetFlix

The show’s message remains with you long after you’ve switched to something else. I couldn’t binge-watch the series – it was a little too intense.

AR*S  is Netflix’s first Dutch series, but it’s dubbed in English. Although the lip movement syncs up better than most international programming – I enjoyed listening to the original language while reading subtitles.

AR*S is not for the easily offended. This show doesn’t care about your “feelings.” If you’re not ready to investigate your triggers. Don’t watch it. If you do,  share with me what you think about “AR*S.”

Let Your Fingers Do the “Talking”

Above is a play on words of the famous 60s slogan “Let Your Fingers do the Walking” for the Yellow Pages commercial business phone book.

Even today, with internet search engines, we still let our fingers do the walking to find information. But while communication technology may be more efficient for business transactions, according to my mom, it comes at a high cost to our interpersonal communication and human interaction.

“Even with all these devices and numerous communication channels, we talk less, and phone etiquette is a lost art”  ~A former 1960’s PBX555 switchboard operator. (my mom).

front view of a phone switchboard
Bell System by Western Electric Switchboard PBX 555: Photo credit Live Auctioneer

Less interaction leaves us with fewer opportunities to practice humanity. And if you’ve spent time on social media, it’s evident the internet can sometimes be hostile territory, the antithesis of social networking.

So, if your livelihood depends on putting the network back in networking, like the switchboard operator, make sure the friendly voice on the line is yours.

I learned this lesson the hard way after trading in my Blackberry Storm for an iPhone in 2013. My Blackberry was a perfect digital assistant, but it wasn’t social, so I focused on maintaining my connections.

Once I got the iPhone, I spent so much time on social networks and iMessages – I didn’t want to take any phone calls.

My motto, “if I wasn’t in you, you in me, or had something on me -we didn’t need to speak on the phone.”

If someone left a voicemail, I would reply with text.

Unfortunately, my no-voice rule resulted in my virtual network growing in direct proportion to my real network’s shrinkage. When I deleted my Facebook account in 2014, I left behind hundreds of virtual friends -and very few traverse digital to join me in the real world. 5 years later, I’ve slowly built up my professional and personal network. Today, I spend hours on the phone, either interviewing subjects for features, brainstorming with prospects, or just to shoot the breeze with friends.

And the best part is it’s so satisfying. It feels like an actual in-person visit. No, carefully thought out responses, no lolls. It’s spontaneous, and there’s a lot of real belly laughs. A gift I’ve given to myself because I used my fingers to press accept or punched in a number, and they answered.

In Architecture, there’s a saying, “less is more.” When it comes to communication technology, this minimalist approach works with phones too.

As Bell’s 1965 ad promotes:

“Long Distance, It’s the next best thing to being there.” [1]

I do have one question about personal phone calls.

If someone phones you, is it to check up on you – or are they calling to talk about themselves.