There’s the national news and there’s the local news. Seems simple enough, but reality is not so clear-cut. Start with the assumption that “all politics is local.” Now apply its derivative, “all news is local.”
Take the annual top 10 stories of the year. The list as selected by Associated Press editors and news directors has an obvious national bent. Conversely, the top stories of 2018 as picked by The Daily Times’ readers and news staff are community oriented.
But are the local selections really so far removed from national interest — and vice versa? Take a closer look, sticking to the top three stories in each survey for brevity’s sake.
AP’s top three: The mass shootings at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 students and staff dead; the investigation by a special counsel into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign contacts with Russia; and ranking third, the #MeToo sexual misconduct allegations that toppled men in powerful positions.
By comparison, The Daily Times’ top three stories of 2018: Foothills Parkway “Missing Link” opens; DENSO holds grand opening for advanced manufacturing facility; and Sen. Lamar Alexander will not seek re-election.
Totally unrelated? Maybe not. Look deeper and distinctions of geography begin to blur. For example, mass shootings at schools might be distant in miles, but not in mind. Capital improvements for local schools routinely prioritize security.
The Russia collusion investigation and the tweet storm it inspired might seem far from the foothills and riverbanks of Blount County, but what about the emotions? How many hosts of Thanksgiving get-togethers didn’t keep fingers crossed, hoping guests kept politics off the dining table?
As the holiday season rolled on, it’s almost like the opening lyrics to “The Twelve Days of Christmas” could have been: “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, no politics near the Christmas tree.”
Continuing on a parallel track, consider the No. 3 story from AP — the one about women determined to not take it anymore — and a local variant emerges. It’s not hard to make a connection between national midterm election news, with record numbers of women entering Congress, and local voters for the first time selecting black women to fill Blount County and city of Alcoa commission seats.
Could it also be that what happens here has national ramifications?
Take that opening of 16 new miles of the Foothills Parkway from Walland to Wears Valley, thanks to the completion of the “The Missing Link” at long last. How many travelers to America’s most-visited national park will drive across this civil engineering marvel to view new sights in the Great Smokies? In time, millions.
As for DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee’s grand opening, never mind that an international company is investing $1 billion more in Blount County. Never mind that it’s creating work for 1,000 new employees. Think bigger, think about the commitment to cutting-edge transportation. Imagine when motorists travel in a new generation of electric-powered, self-driving vehicles with parts engineered and made in Maryville.
Finally, it’s no stretch to conclude the decision by Lamar Alexander to not seek re-election was a national as well as a local story. Check out this lead from The New York Times: “Sen. Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and one of the last bridges to bipartisanship in the Senate, announced on Monday that he would not seek re-election ... .”
National or local news? For Blount Countians in 2018, often it was both.