Director's Take

Communication image



Dear Friend of Downtown,

Communication has changed formats exponentially since the introduction of the Gutenberg printing press in the mid-1400s. For centuries, the way we received news or communicated with each other had been through the spoken or printed word, where people gathered in town squares to hear the latest news or where a handbill was posted for all to read. Newspapers, magazines, handbills, advertising posters … all ways we communicated events, celebrations, ceremonies, or news.

Radio took off in the 1920s with television following quickly behind in the ‘30s. All of these forms of communication invited people to be together, listening to the town crier, reading a newspaper at the breakfast table with family, or gathering around a radio to hear a news broadcast or comedy sketch. Fast forward to today’s world of screens and computers, where we can be alone and “talk” to millions of people. Starting in the 1990s, the world wide web spawned all sorts of new ways to share information, which saved us money on encyclopedias and time at the library, allowing us to do our own research. But when social media burst onto the scene, different from all the previous modes of communication, we were missing one thing… an editor.

I do love the beautiful photos, but for all the other stuff, there is no arbiter to help us discern truth or fable, opinion, exaggeration or fact. No editor to do the fact-checking and stop those rumors in their tracks. Instead, bending or breaking the truth now seems commonplace and we are more divided than ever. We simply are better when face to face; we have so much more compassion and tolerance for each other when we are in person and can see someone’s different way of life than ours, how a law affects one group of people differently than another, or how, at our core, we’re really not that different.

How we communicate has changed, but the need for human interaction has not. As Miranda Lambert says, “ever since the beginning, to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds” … something we aren’t able to see from behind a computer screen. So, get up, get out, and come Downtown, where there’s something for everyone. I hope to see you on the streets soon!

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