Editor Letter: Voices That Matter

The end of our short attention span is at hand.
Barry Glenn

Barry Glenn

Over the years, Americans’ attention span seems to have become shorter and shorter when it comes to news events. According to Nieman Journalism Lab, a study two years ago by Google Trends and two partners showed that, based on Google searches, “the news cycles for some of the biggest moments of 2018 only lasted for a median of seven days — from the very beginning of higher-than-normal interest until the Google searches fizzled out.” Those events ranged from the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination to Hurricane Michael to the midterm elections.

What has especially amazed me is the way the nation reacts to school shootings. After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and the murders at Stoneman Douglas High six years later, the public and media appeared to move on after a few weeks of gun control debate. Even when it involves the killing of children, sadly enough, it seems we’ve perfected the dubious talent of “getting back to normal.’’

No more. Mark 2020 as the year the news cycle’s wheels came off.

That’s because we’re in the middle of two generation-defining events—the coronavirus pandemic and the uprising over racial injustice and police brutality, spurred by the killing of George Floyd by law enforcement in Minneapolis. In both cases, there is no normal to get back to. With COVID-19, we wish there were. With racial inequality, there morally cannot be.

In this issue you’ll find a feature called “Black Voices Matter,” in which local African American leaders speak out about what’s gone wrong in this nation and how we might fix it. They speak about agreeing to disagree, policy changes, a coalition of voices, and local government leaders sitting down with residents and really listening. Seven voices are featured; we plan to continue to offer viewpoints from others in coming issues and online. Also running in this issue is a riveting gallery of recent Central Florida protests for racial justice, with photos by Roberto Gonzalez and Phelan Ebenhack.

Elsewhere, check out our cover story on Central Florida’s Great Neighborhoods and what makes them special, from historic homes and riverfront bike paths to neighbors helping one another out.  In Food & Drink, Joseph Hayes gives a rundown of dozens of must-try restaurants in those neighborhoods. Plus, a special section guides you to the area’s top real estate professionals who can help you buy or sell a home. Finally, Cheri Henderson talks to some Lake Highland Prep students who have started a free tutoring service during the pandemic, and in Extra Pulp, Laura Anders Lee gives thanks for households where dads share the burdens with moms, creating true home teams.

Categories: Column