The Tragic Irrelevancy of the Denton Record-Chronicle
Dan’s Silverleaf was packed last night – not for a show, but for a city council debate. With four seats on the ballot, this is arguably one of the most important elections in years. Last night’s debate, hosted by the Denton Downtowners, We Denton Do It, and Drink and Think, was an attempt to capture the momentum and attention of Denton’s growing creative class, a demographic that has made itself a force to be reckoned with in Denton. They are the creators of our city, the changers of culture, and are beautifully directing their democratic impulses back to their community.
By all accounts, last night’s debate had more people than any other forum to date and, according to many candidates and attendees, it stood out as the most important.
Yet our local newspaper, the Denton Record-Chronicle, neither promoted it nor covered it. Instead, the lead story for today’s paper was about the painting of walls at the Sanger library.
This isn’t new. Despite the fact that there have been growing crowds of civic-minded young professionals, artists, and families coming together to help create Denton in the areas of culture, technology, and livibility, our local paper has acted like none of this is happening. Hundreds showing up each time we have a Denton Creatives Mixer or host innovative citizen engagement events like February’s Ideas for the City Forum, yet not a single story.
Meanwhile the paper continues perpetuating the now tired and outdated narrative that “City Hall is not listening to the citizens.” I have no interest in speculating why this is the case other than to point to something that is becoming increasingly obvious. The conspiratorial fantasies of those who spend a significant amount of time commenting on dentonrc.com stories tend to find their way into the headlines. It’s as if the coverage of local politics in Denton is written with an aim of causing a commotion among these curmudgeon commentators.
And this is tragic. A robust local news outlet is essential for a robust and healthy local democracy. With local newspapers failing all over the nation, it will be up to somebody or some entity to reimagine and transform the future of local news. And I can’t think of a better place where we have all the necessary ingredients to create a new model for the power and possibility of local news than Denton, Texas. And in doing so, help return a vibrant democracy to the city.
There are armies of journalists, photographers, videographers, creative writers, cultural thought leaders, and analysts ready to join with you in this ambitious project.
But you are ignoring them.