This week I joined the Zoom generation. I’m kind of excited about it, too.
But before you say anything snotty about my delayed online evolution, let me beat you to it: “OK, Boomer, whatever.”
Which is only fair, I guess. I am a Baby Boomer. But that generational designation is about age, and birthdates. The Zoom generation is all about Zoom, as you might imagine, and meeting by face and voice online from different locations through something called “the cloud,” which in this instance has nothing to do with condensed water vapor and dust particles.
I still don’t understand this particular cloud. And don’t try to explain it to me, either. It makes me dizzy, and a little nauseous.
But I understood enough, just barely, this week to take part in my first Zoom meeting. It was a town-hall meeting, actually, without an actual town hall. That’s a pretty good way to meet, with COVID cases surging. And if you’re sitting at your computer in your den, as I was, you don’t even have to wear a mask.
The town hall was hosted by South Dakota News Watch, a tax-exempt news organization of experienced professionals that provides essential journalism to supplement what existing mainstream news outlets continue to provide, despite dwindling resources.
You see News Watch stories in the Journal and other papers regularly. The latest is a fascinating look at Gov. Kristi Noem’s approval rating — it’s better among men than it is among women — and how the dramatic climb in COVID cases, hospitalization and deaths might be affecting it.
It’s important stuff. And while the Journal and other mainstream-media outlets are still the foundation of news coverage in the state, News Watch is an important addition. Real news is produced by real news reporters. And that requires real money.
Which means supporting both mainstream media outlets and News Watch, which I do.
But back to the Zoom generation and the town hall. It featured USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page (yes, from the presidential debate) and former Washington Post national political reporter Jim VandeHei, who is now CEO of Axios.
If you don’t know what Axios is, you’re like I was not all that long ago. You might or might not know what Politico is. They’re both online news sites, with real reporters, and Politico actually has a print edition, too.
So these are real news outlets with real reporters, unlike some of the strangely named frauds you might find online. As I’ve said before, it’s your job to tell the flowers from the weeds.
Anyway, VandeHei helped co-found both Politico and Axios. And, like Page, he knows a lot about politics in Washington, D.C., and across the nation. Journalism, too. So while I have a general aversion to meetings I’m not getting paid to cover and tend to suffer cognitive contusions while negotiating websites, I managed to make the News Watch town hall.
The event was moderated by News Watch co-founder Jack Marsh, one of my former editors at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. As you might expect, Jack asked about the Nov. 3 election and President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that Joe Biden won or to begin work on a transition.
VandeHei said that behavior was “predictable” and doubts the president will admit he lost or attend Biden’s inauguration. He also predicted that Trump will soon announce that he will run for another presidential term in 2024, although VandeHei said it’s questionable whether Trump will follow through.
But VandeHei said Trump could be “viable” in 2024, an idea that seems to be supported by the 71 million votes he received, second all-time only to Biden’s 76 million.
“He was running for reelection in about as bad a situation as you could have, and he still got his people to vote like no other Republican,” VandeHei said.
Page also expects Trump to stay in the spotlight, “hector” Joe Biden regularly and use the power of his adoring base to continue to be a force in the Republican Party.
“I totally agree. He’s not going anywhere,” she said.
Least of all to the inaugural. Although maybe he could participate by Zoom. After my experience this week, I could help him with that.
Kevin Woster writes a blog and offers radio commentary for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.