Recently the Duluth News Tribune suspended its daily newspaper and now only publishes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They cited budget concerns when making the change, but one has to wonder if perhaps they were freeing up time to do their other important job: Public Relations for the City of Duluth.
In the last two months, the News Tribune has been working hard making the city staff look good. Just last week they ran the fluffiest piece on Mayor Emily Larson that one dream up, and in June, the “love story” of Kate Van Daele, the city’s Public Information Officer, both stories (by different writers) featured darling photos of the Emily and Kate walking with their spouses while holding hands. #SoAdorbs.
The News Tribune was able to dedicate a boatload of column inches to how Emily handles the stress of her job by running six miles a day, but can’t spare a few hundred words to what she’s actually doing at that job. For example, what are the plans for dealing with the city’s massive budget crisis?
Van Daele’s article elaborates on how love makes the clear conflict of interest between her and her husband’s job justifiable and how the “power couple” who just moved to Duluth a few years ago is situated such important roles in the community (both earning incomes from public/non-profit employers doesn’t really scream “power”). Meanwhile, the public information officer dropped the ball on informing businesses what would be expected of them when the mask ordinance passed and went into effect immediately.
Here’s the thing. The DNT wouldn’t have to work so hard to sell us our city administration if they would just do their jobs.
Emily is a likable person. She’s got a kind face, a spunk, and effervescence that could really motivate people and that means mom voice that should make them move even if they weren’t motivated. She’s got the compassionate communication phrasing down pat and slips in liberal feminist buzz words like “grit” and “thrive”, and “leaning in” to endear her to her base. Even former Mayor Don Ness, as quoted in the DNT article, says he thinks she is “the most emotionally intelligent elected official I’ve come in contact with.”
Then why can’t she be real?
Maybe that is what this article was attempting to do. There’s a whole “she’s just like us” paragraph that talks about how her kids are home, and her and her husband are working from home, and it’s just so gosh darn cute they are eating dinner together like a normal family.
But you can’t PR over Duluth’s problems – no matter how many subscribers the Duluth News Tribune has. They are on full display 24/7 to anyone who lives, works, or travels to Duluth. This city is damaged. This city does not have its priorities straight. And this city – especially its administration, just can’t seem to admit there is a problem.
How can the Mayor run 6-7 miles near her home in the East Hillside and not see the homeless encampment growing in Chester Park? Why can’t they acknowledge the homeless and drug problems in Downtown, Canal Park, and West Duluth? Why won’t anyone talk about the rise in crime in Duluth’s East and Lakeside neighborhoods?
If no one is talking about these issues – then no one is fixing them.
Instead, Emily’s article expounds on how she and her husband are “Feeling AOC” and her comments to U.S. Rep Ted Yoho after he called her the F-ing B-word and how society has been given permission to erode people, in particular women.
You wonder how many guys have been called an “F-ing A-hole” on the steps of the capital – by women and other men. Probably most of them, but none of them thought they should make a speech to Congress about it – because, its politics, it’s not personal. It’s the constraints of a high-pressure job bursting at the seams. And sometimes, it’s probably the truth.
Calling someone a swear word does not “erode” or “dehumanize” them. In a professional setting, it’s highly inappropriate, sure, but I’d rather be called a b-word or an a-word than not be seen at all.
The truth of the matter is there will be plenty of time to debate AOC’s b-word status after the enormous problems our city (and country) are facing have been dealt with.
Until then, if the DNT would cover news, that’d be great.
On the other hand, the one thing about Emily the DNT article didn’t cover – that I’m sure we’d all like to know, is how she keeps that white band of her Apple watch looking so brand new.