What is the Concurrent doing?
This tiny paper once chock-full of long form commentary so averse to being labeled as conservative that it would often criticize Republicans to appear neutral is now publishing some hardliner ideas. Your favorite scrappy upstart that avoided clickbait sensationalism to an often boring degree that bordered on incomprehensible is now hosting content that levies accusations at others.
My soul has not been sold, but a lesson has been learned. 2022 taught me the value of hearing from others. What started as an outlet to showcase my own critical analysis has given way to the recognition of just how insufficient my sole perspective is in the conversation.
Then the primary election happened and accelerated this realization with a swift realty check gut punch. Local media, including my perspective which largely agreed with a lot of its conclusions, failed to connect with how the standard Citrus County voter saw things.
I didn’t predict this disconnect but I can explain it. Even those who claim to have the most open of minds can be off-put by opinions that differ from their own. This is easy to avoid at the national level because there are so many choices that will fit any outlook you have with little friction.
The local level is different though. With so few choices at the local level, it’s easy for one or two publications to choose what to cover, or how to cover, certain stories. There’s something missing, though, viewpoints that exist in significant amounts in our community that are not being represented in local media. Moreover, I am not a voice alone that can be that representative.
You might be formulating a counterargument at this point. Closed primaries, meaning only Republicans voting in Republican primaries, don’t accurately represent the full community, some might say.
Two things can be simultaneously true. This can be a little bit like backyard baseball taking turns grabbing up the handle of a bat until one reaches the top and wins. The first thing that can be true is that open primaries elect more moderate candidates because Democrats have a voice that makes up over 25 percent of the electorate.
The second thing that can be true is that this is not actually a better reflection of what the community wants. By the time the general election rolls around, that Democrat share of the overall electorate shrinks to two in every ten while the Republican portion grows to over six in every ten voters. Twice as many voters show up for the general election as do the primary election.
The hand to reach to the top of the bat is this realization that general election voters are actually a better reflection of what the entire community wants than an open primary election is, yet if you ask anyone in local media, I’m sure they would lament that the lack of open primaries as a problem. It’s not.
The problem is people, particularly those who work in media, who claim to love Citrus County so clearly can’t stand Citrus Countians. Sure they like the ones who have community buy-in; those who play an active civic role and who subscribe to the same ethos as the same familiar faces they see. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But it can’t come at the expense of failing to recognize that doing good for the community is as much about respecting those who aren’t in our inner-circles as it is about uplifting the ones who are.
The Concurrent’s print form in 2023 and beyond will become the first serious effort to bridge the disconnect happening between Citrus voters and the Citrus media. For over six months now, the publication has averaged a new letter or guest column every other day - even after election season wrapped up.
The Concurrent’s content creation will focus more on the audio and mobile content while the bulk of the writing will be left to voices like yours. Instead of writing twice weekly long-form columns as I have for the last two years, I will instead approach 2023 with different content.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing entirely, but on an as-needed basis to put current events into a different context.
Happy New Year to everyone. 2023 is your opportunity to take up writing and let your voice be heard in our local discussion that to this point has not been able to accurately reflect this place we all love.