It was announced yesterday that the City of Windsor and its CUPE membership reached a deal that will end the 15 week old strike. The strike involved both inside and outside workers and affected things like social services, parking monitoring, garbage collection, etc. Undoubtedly, the most noticeable effect in this withdrawal of services was the lack of garbage collection and it was a focus point for both sides in this dispute.
This blog isn’t a political one so I’m not going to offer a position on either side of the argument.
The community has done that.
I think back to ways events like this have been handled in the past. The common wisdom was that every city should have at least two different newspapers so that editorial comments, both left and right leaning, could have a public say. In the case of Windsor, there is a single newspaper so that just isn’t possible. In the past, typically a newspaper will post a balance of comments from the public. A couple for; a couple against carefully selected to give a sense that there is a balance in the reporting.
Image via Wikipedia
However, this is 2009. Anyone with a computer and access to the internet can have and express an opinion. The Windsor Star, part of the Canada.com network, allowed comments from anyone who wished to express an opinion. The community surely provided the comments. Amid comments that the newspaper was filtering the deluge of messages (see an explanation here), people from all over the world shared their thoughts about what was happening.
It wasn’t just the print media that provided continuing coverage either. The local television station and radio stations (CKLW, for one) provided the coverage but nothing provided the opinion and pulse of the community like those who could pick up a keyboard and express their thoughts by way of blog response.
It was kept local either. Groups surfaced on Facebook as people took their rights as citizen journalists to express their thoughts about what was happening. It doesn’t stop there. Folks took their opinions to YouTube as well.
Once again, I’m struck by how new technologies are so enabling to the common person. I have no doubt that every step in the back to work process or the continuing governance of the city will be closely scrutinized in the days ahead. Some comments will be more effective that others. As educators, we’ve all known that there are differing levels of writing skills. With the ease and reach of social media, it once again makes it so obvious that those who understand and use this media wisely will lead the discussion. Having access potentially makes you a journalist; having the skills makes you an effective journalist.
After all, with all these opportunities, everyone has a say.
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