Last night I read Harold and the Purple Crayon to my 5-year-old. He sat wide-eyed with an expression of intrigue as we learned about Harold drawing an imaginative world with his crayon.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crayon or a pen or a pencil and create a world that’s easier or happier? It certainly would. But that’s not the way real life works.
So this, perhaps, is how we in the traditional — and dare I say legitimate — media will meet our demise: fake news.
And just this past Saturday I was so optimistic that traditional journalism was somehow going to survive. I was visiting my daughter and some friends at Appalachian State and had a conversation with a college senior who is doing an internship at a High Country newspaper. He was full of that youthful excitement about journalism and was unrestrained about his desire to pursue a print newspaper job after seeing the effect his stories had in the small community his newspaper serves. I came home thinking of my own ambitions at that age and believing that young people like him would surely help our industry continue to do its important mission in our democratic society.
It started with a poster. Or, more accurately, with a collection of posters in the window of Western Carolina University’s Department of Intercultural Affairs. February is African-American History Month, and the display aimed to draw attention to the issue of police brutality, especially as it relates to race.
Some students took offense. In particular, a Facebook post by WCU student and campus EMS Chief Dalton Barrett went the Western North Carolina version of viral, drawing 81 shares and 58 comments.
Every month, the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority shells out $2,650 to keep its website updated, get it to show up prominently in search results and analyze digital traffic.
Y’all are doing it wrong.
You know, that thing? Social media? What happened? How did the endless fun and unlimited curiosity of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter become so dark, vile and negative? Since when is your neighbor an enemy to be reckoned with or your longtime friend the nemesis you never thought possible?
When John Miele, co-owner of the Golden Carp, left a social media class recently taught by Western Carolina University students, his Dillsboro business had a new home. Now, visitors can find information such as the store’s hours and location on its official Web site, as well as subscribe to the Golden Carp’s news and updates by becoming a “fan” of the business’s Facebook page.
“I wanted to know what Facebook was all about and how to properly use the media of the moment,” said Miele.
The social media class at WCU was held as part of the Dillsboro-Western Carolina University partnership effort to support community revitalization. At the class, WCU public relations students Lauren Gray, Garrett Richardson and Ashley Funderburk led business owners step-by-step in how to use Facebook pages.
Participants learned to upload photos and business information, create events, set privacy controls and post status updates. In addition, they discussed tools such as email and Twitter, and the effectiveness of using social media tools for marketing.
Miele said it is important for the Golden Carp to have an online presence. He noted that about 75 percent of customers of the 20-year-old business, which specializes in accessories for the home, fine art and unique gifts, are tourists, and many conduct online research when they plan their trips.