Power to the People!
“‘In Florida, activism is rare. I wanted to let people know that it’s normal to care about stuff and want to do something about it. Activists aren’t crazy.'” -Andrew Stelzer
Eesha Williams’ story about the battle against Wal-Mart is especially interesting to me. I grew up in southwest Colorado, Telluride and Durango, and have watched corporate developer move into Durango (included Wal-Mart) and also seen them successfully barred from Telluride.
In the mountains of Telluride, the closest corporation is several hours away by car. Telluride sits in a box-canyon, with only one direction to sprawl: west on the valley floor. For over a decade the town of Telluride fought to raise money to buy the valley floor, in order to preserve the land and likewise prevent development. After raising $50 million dollars, and a 6-1 vote of the Colorado Supreme Court, Telluride won.
Durango on the other hand has more room to sprawl. I have witnessed the exponential development between the rural fields of Bayfield (just 20 miles east of Durango) and downtown Durango. While several small businesses have withstood competitors and successfully established a loyal customer base, many businesses struggle to survive and eventually close. There is one Wal-Mart in Durango, and while it seems convenient to purchase all one’s necessities at one location, I also wonder what impact Wal-Mart has had on all of the local competitors who have lost business due to its establishment. I am also wary to support Wal-Mart due to its low values—its history of mistreating employees and of ignoring its negative impacts on the environment.
As a journalist I am excited to read about small, local news sources, such as the WMNF radio station and The St. Petersburg Times, which have been able to make such a huge impact on their communities. I especially think that WMNF covered the Wal-Mart debate in an effective and extremely ethical way. Through interviewing a variety of specialists on air, Stelzer was able to expose listeners to multiple negative effects of the proposed Wal-Mart, without actually telling the listeners what to think. Also, the radio station provided listeners with vital information on where, when, and how to get involved with the debates—once again giving power to the people, and connecting them to the information necessary to take action.
Questions for Eesha: With the continuing advancement of media conglomeration, how can we help multiple local media sources survive? In your opinion, what is the most effective media medium for reaching people, at the local, state, and international levels?