Who are we? It’s a broad question that changes depending on the context. Who are we meaning the Concurrent? A free multimedia editorial publication. Who are we as Citrus County residents? Compassionate community members who still embrace our individualism. You might be asking, “who are you? Who are you to be writing these columns?”
Today’s column is the first published since the Citrus County Concurrent has been advertised publicly so it’s probable this is the only piece you’ve read so far. If so, welcome to the conversation.
So who are we? If the question is about the person, I am Bobby Winsler. Though a native Floridian who has never lived in any other state, I have only lived in Citrus for half a decade recently celebrating my five year anniversary of moving here.
I’ve been the campaign manager on over a dozen local political races and have a Ph.D. from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism & Communications. This love for politics professionally and media academically combined this year to form the Concurrent.
The question then becomes who are we meaning the Concurrent as a whole. The Concurrent is not a competitor to the Chronicle nor is it a newspaper. It’s a multimedia editorial publication. These columns, podcasts and social media posts provide additional analysis of some of the most difficult problems facing our county’s current affairs and the Concurrent gives free in-depth explanations of what is happening in our community.
While we are not a direct competitor to the Chronicle, however, we do find ourselves at odds quite often with the stances in their opinion section. The Chronicle is a fantastic outlet for reporting the latest news and finding outstanding feature stories that make this community such a joy to live in.
It’s opinion section, though, often has three true outcomes: to prop up a position based on cronyism rather than merit, to denounce a policy by attacking the person rather than the issue or to advocate for progressive principles over conservative ones.
Despite this last part, it would be wrong to think of the Concurrent as a conservative response to the liberal-leaning editorial content from the Chronicle, even though that is the outcome most weeks.
Take the root question again: who are we? The rest of this column explains why the “R” in “who ‘are’ we” defines the difference between the Concurrent and the Chronicle but not in a traditional sense of the political spectrum.
The R that would stand for being on the ideological right or being Republican isn’t the Concurrent’s goal. Too often when public affairs debates become politicized and partisan, the goal is to win rather than to find the best outcome. The Concurrent is not interested in winning the debate on any local issue. We strive to facilitate the most productive discussion.
The Chronicle’s three true outcomes are more a result of the culture of their editorial section which is one defined by another R: reciprocity. In just this last week, we’ve seen both ends of the reciprocal spectrum from former county commissioners who are considered friends being lauded while another current commissioner who refuses to speak with the paper being attacked.
Reciprocity, the idea of returning favor depending on how one is treated, is innately human and there is nothing inherently wrong with giving friends media attention when it is deserved. That helps build community.
Taken to an extreme, however, it can lead to a weaponization of the opinion section when someone disagrees with the direction set forth in the editorials which becomes problematic as the Chronicle currently has large unchecked influence as a primary local publication.
The Concurrent’s two R’s that define it are recognition and reconciliation. Rather than demonizing an opposing opinion, which often originates in the Chronicle, we try to recognize the reasons behind this view and reconcile the ways in which they are different from our own to fully address an issue.
Like reciprocity, this too will build a community. Political affiliation won’t define this community, nor will conformity in group thought, but rather it will be a contributing audience of people who believe in these two R&R principles. You can join this community by commenting on our discussion boards, social media pages or writing a letter to the editor.
Who are we? We are Citrus County, the best place to call home in all of Florida. Who R we? We are those who embrace the two R’s of the Concurrent and we’re glad you’re here.