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The Rest Of The Story — By John Reed

The Rest Of The Story
People of a certain age remember flashcubes. For younger readers: before phone cams and digital cameras, a company named Kodak made very inexpensive film cameras called “Instamatics.” Once you shot your photos, you sent the entire unit in to have the film developed and printed.
If you were indoors or in a low light area, you could attach a four-sided little doodad that would provide a flash for up to four photos. Videos from concerts and sporting events would often show hundreds of these flashcubes going off every minute. I even remember a marching band using them as a gimmick during a halftime show.
One of my favorite things to do is to sit on my front porch during a thunderstorm at night and watch the rain through the lightning flashes. The millisecond images of my fruit trees and grapevines fluttering in the wind would remind me of the sparkles of flashcubes at some event.
Each flash of lightning would freeze the action of the raindrops and wind flurries. Seconds later another bolt would lock my eyes onto another tiny bit of the scene, solidifying it in time. Each flash showed a brief view of what was happening in my meadow. If I sat long enough, I could follow the action enough to see the storm progress.
This is much like watching the news on television or social media these days. Tiny little snippets of larger stories are thrown my way, with no follow up to provide context. “Long form” reporting has vanished, as pervaders cave to the public’s ever-shortening attention span.
And yet, the challenges we face can’t be summarized into fifteen-second sound bites. All too much of the polarization we see all around us stems from miscommunication and misunderstanding. Even previously reasonable people jump to conclusions when they don’t know what’s really going on.
Here’s another name only folks of a certain age will know: Paul Harvey. His nationally syndicated radio broadcast brought people of all walks of life to a five minute standstill during his daily report. One of his most popular features was an in-depth look at a single event or person. His sign-off was always in his recognizably stentorian voice: “and that…is the rest of the story.”
Now more than ever, we need more than flashcube news snippets and opinions designed to provoke knee-jerk outrage. We need to hear…the rest of the story.

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