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Brian Hamilton: Fascination at our fingertips

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Visit TheUnion.com/News/Elections for more election coverage.

I used to be so much more of a political junkie.

Throughout the earliest days of the new millennium, as our country grappled with the most highly contested presidential election, as terrorists waged war against our nation, as we sent our soldiers into Afghanistan and Iraq, the somewhat sudden sobering seriousness of the world around me often had me glued to 24-hour cable news and newspaper websites all across the country.

I wanted to know not only what was happening in the world, but also what people were saying about it — largely dependent upon how the political machines were processing information and spinning it to support their side of the debate.



It was fascinating, at least for awhile.

I’m not sure whether it was the responsibilities of being a new parent, or perhaps the daily demands of my job as a journalist, but at some point it just seemed that I no longer had the time to pay attention to all the punditry playing out in the national media.




Or maybe I just became more interested on what was going on here, in our community.

But I’ll admit the past weekend sucked me back into a fascination with our “political process,” although it was probably more due to the train wreck that took over the screens my eyes were scanning than the potential public policy discussions of a debate. Indeed, we do live in fascinating times, if not for the most righteous of reasons.

Still, there I was scrolling through my Twitter and Facebook feeds, seeking out “the latest,” as our Associated Press colleagues call it. And through those social media channels I was funneled more information that I could ever digest, even when presented in bite-sized chunks of 140 characters or less. But with a click of the link back to the original source — most often newspapers like the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, but also Politico, Reuters and Buzzfeed (yeah, I went there) — there was even more reporting to be read.

By the time I’d given my blurred eyes a break, and I’d consumed much more content than I’d ever intended, I somewhat felt sick to my stomach and it seemed my whole weekend had been wasted away.

Then again, it was impressive how much information was available at my fingertips as I sought it.

There’s a lot of talk about how today’s digital world is bringing about the demise of newspapers. And for certain, in delivering what is considered to be commodity news — information available from the numerous sources of the sort that served it up to me over the weekend — there’s no point of waiting until it appears in print to read it. But the internet has also afforded newspaper staffs the ability to compete against other media in reporting news, as we no longer must wait for the print cycle to play its way out to your doorstep each morning. In fact, as one longtime subscriber recently noticed, many stories — or at least portions of them — appearing in our daily print edition have already been published at TheUnion.com the previous day.

As we move forward in the digital era, The Union continues to ramp up our online efforts in informing our readers in real time. Among the examples are Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy’s Twitter coverage of key community meetings, such as the Jan. 12 and July 26 marijuana discussions of the Board of Supervisors that drew a great deal of interest. Our live coverage of the June primary election, which funneled our Twitter and Instagram feeds to TheUnion.com, engaged an interested audience, as do our weekly Friday night live football blogs.

Of course local elections are always of great interest in our community and we’ll be providing live coverage on election night. But in advance of casting our votes, The Union continues its coverage of local and statewide races, including the potential impact of Proposition 64’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

Riquelmy recently visited Colorado to attend the Online News Association seminar in Denver. While there, he interviewed the state’s “marijuana czar” (actually, his real title is the director of the governor’s office of marijuana coordination), visited a few pot dispensaries (for window shopping purposes only I’m sure) and dropped by iBake, a business where one can legally smoke marijuana in public (which is actually a rarity in a state where recreational pot is now legal). Catch Riquelmy’s coverage on the topic on page A1 of today’s edition, as well as the front page on Thursday and Friday, as western Nevada County weighs its vote on Prop 64.

And throughout the remaining weeks ahead of Nov. 8, be sure to visit www.TheUnion.com/News/Elections where you’ll find more reporting, including last week’s look at local ballot measures, all geared to get you up to speed for Election Day — which is good for you, even if you’re not a political junkie.

Contact Editor Brian Hamilton at bhamilton@theunion.com or 530-477-4249.


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