Change in climate

Adjusting to the dark cloud forming over the nation

I’ve come to the conclusion that Donald Trump is bad for my writing mojo—at least when it comes to my weekly column. If you’ve noticed a little less snark here recently, it’s probably because I’ve been preoccupied by the dark cloud forming over the country. To counter it, I’ve taken to lighter subjects.

Some weeks I feel wholly overwhelmed by the hefty stuff CN&R covers in the editorial space opposite this page and in Eye on 45. The latter is our biweekly feature in which I attempt to keep up not only with POTUS’ increasingly concerning ties to the Kremlin but also with the rapid-fire pace at which his administration is attempting to establish and undo legislation in such a way that benefits only the wealthiest Americans (see page 11 for this week’s installment).

One of the more prominent examples: The potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the law that made it possible for 20 million Americans to gain health insurance. A recent attempt to repeal it would have booted 24 million from the rolls over the next decade. The replacement floated by GOP leaders—the so-called American Health Care Act—went down in flames two weeks ago. But now, Trump and company are apparently attempting to breathe new life into it.

It’s hard to keep up with it all. To get a leg up, in fact, I recently subscribed to The New York Times, which has been doing some of the nation’s best investigative reporting on the White House. I now get the Sunday edition of the Times delivered to my house and have full access to the paper’s digital version.

Since the general election, the Gray Lady has seen a huge spike in readers like me, people who value such intrepid reporting. According to the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, the increase is due in part to the president’s incessant attempts to discredit the publication. The more Trump tweets about “the failing New York Times,” the more subscribers the paper picks up.

That’s a big deal. It’s allowed the Times to reinvest resources into the newsroom in the form of additional reporters and editors, thereby buoying its coverage. The result, of course, is a better informed nation. I suppose if there’s a bright spot to a Trump presidency, it’s the resurgence of the national daily newspapers that have floundered over the last decade.

As editor of a community newspaper, I’m doing my best to balance our national news coverage—mainly in editorials and in the aforementioned Eye on 45 feature—with CN&R’s biggest responsibility of keeping the community apprised of local issues. It’s not easy. We have a lot of important things going on in our backyard. Cases in point: Check out any given week’s news stories or cover stories over the past month or so (think housing shortage, the shooting death of a mentally ill man at the hands of local police, marijuana legalization, etc.).

But I don’t want to give a false impression that what’s happening at our nation’s capitol won’t harm the North State. There’s a potentially calamitous trickle-down effect on everything—from immigration and environmental policy to privacy and health care laws. I’m convinced there’s more at stake now than ever in my lifetime. Like others in the news business, I’m feeling the weight of it all.

I’m not going soft, though, don’t worry. I’m just learning to live with this change in climate.