We are living in a world of infobesity.
In 2017, it was estimated that 90% of the world’s data had been created in the previous two years. We created 26 zettabytes in that year (a ZB equals a trillion gigabytes, that’s 21 zeroes, people), according to the German online platform Statista. That number more than tripled last year to 97 ZB. It’s estimated to jump to 149 ZB by next year.
In every minute on the internet in 2020, we humans sent 41,666,667 WhatsApp messages, as reported by the American cloud software company Domo.
In every second of 2021, there were 3,026,626 emails sent, reported Internet Live Stats (of which 67% were spam. Sigh.).
Suffice it to say we are inundated with data. There is so much information available, it’s impossible to keep up. Truly impossible, because while the amount of data has increased, the amount of attention available in our human form hasn’t.
Thus, our mission at Moonshine Ink is to keep our readers informed about things that matter in our community
in a way that doesn’t waste any of your precious vital energy. We aim to help Truckee/North Lake Tahoe understand the community’s issues and assets, in all its complexity, in a way that is digestible.
Journalism combats infobesity by making sense of all the information out there. As G. Stuart Adam, a journalism professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, said in a 2008 interview, “I encourage you to think of journalism as a form of expression or brain work that includes making news judgments, gathering evidence, constructing narratives, and making sense of things.”
This work, when done right, is expensive to do and it requires people who are highly skilled.
Costs have greatly increased for everyone these past few years and as is being well documented across the country, journalism was already struggling. Big tech is a huge reason the scales have tipped so precariously for this industry.
But it’s been my experience that it is the local people who pick up and help other locals. And I believe that is the antidote to big tech’s oversized influence on our lives.
The stakes are high. The late media theorist James W. Carey wrote in 2007:
“The origins of journalism are the same as the origins of republican or democratic forms of governance — no journalism, no democracy. But it is equally true that without democracy, there can be no journalism. When democracy falters, journalism falters, and when journalism goes awry, democracy goes awry.”
Our membership program is a way to allow for all of us little guys (big ones are invited too) to support the work of journalism in this small, not small, community that is Truckee/North Lake Tahoe. A relatively tiny number of us live full-time in this world-renowned landscape and grapple with outsized issues that have repercussions on a national, if not global, scale. We can’t afford to lose quality journalism in the ongoing, fervent, heated, and crucial dialogues happening every day here.
We need a critical mass of members to show their support as our independent-minded reporting often doesn’t make fans of the big entities in our region. The bigger the company or organization, the less likely we are to hear from them in terms of supporting our work, and actually the more likely we are to piss them off.
Here are a few examples of our impactful stories that didn’t make some people happy:
Lead cables on the West Shore of Tahoe: Our reporting preceded the filing of a formal lawsuit and a settlement from AT&T, the cable owner. This story still continues and as per recent national reporting, has ramifications on a countrywide scale (more on this to come in future editions).
Agency differences in wildfire strategies: One of our most in-depth pieces on wildfire looked into why the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire have taken different approaches. A story that impacts the West, yet never had this aspect been explored before on a journalistic platform, as far as we know.
Troubled waters at the Tahoe Truckee Sanitation Agency: Our coverage put the heat on TTSA to keep a close eye on its management, and significant changes were made at the district.
Plight of the J-1s: A story last winter about disparate conditions for these transient workers, with a focus on transportation issues, has reportedly led to better, more reliable transport.
Democratic self-government depends on the people knowing what public officials, businesses, and community decision-makers are up to. That’s impossible without a watchdog press.
This comment I saw on John Oliver’s piece about journalism a few years back says it well: “You either pay for journalism or you pay for not having journalism.”
We have many members who have been on board since 2019 when I first made a plea to support our work in the piece Does Moonshine Ink Have a Future? Yet still only a fraction of our readers have stepped up to the plate. We need everyone to pitch in, to support this important work, to keep the independent journalistic voice alive.
The alternative is unthinkable, in my humble opinion.