Knowing When to Keep Your Comments to Yourself

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

One of the most storied quotes of Western civilization was attributed to an 18th Century French writer named François-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire.

It’s shown in the image posted here, and it certainly embodies the concept of free speech, a concept noted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

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Clearly, Mr. Voltaire would not be a fan of the so-called “cancel culture” prevalent these days.

My first encounter with these provocative words  was back in the late 1970s upon entering the lobby of the 435 N. Michigan Av. building in Chicago — better known as the Tribune Tower and once housing the newsroom, business offices and printing presses for the metropolitan daily that bears its name.  There, Voltaire’s words were carved into the marble wall above an entrance way in the grand lobby, in view for all who pass through the storied bastion of journalism.

As a free-thinker and ardent supporter of free speech, I certainly adhere to the foundation behind the Frenchman’s commentary. But as a modern communications professional, I’ve learned sometimes it’s best to keep some comments to yourself.

A case in point: Last week, we enlisted the services of a local upholstery cleaning firm to bring our sofa and love seat back to like-new looking condition. The Upholstery Guy, who resembled Jimmy Buffett, maintained a professional, yet casual attitude during his visit.  As he loaded his cleaning machine, solutions, tubing and other gear into our home that morning, he inquired about my line of work.

“I’m in public relations and communications now, but started out in journalism, as a reporter here in Chicago,” I remarked. “But that was many years ago.”

Learning of my former profession led him on a subtle, but passionate diatribe regarding an April 4 segment of 60 Minutes that questioned whether wealthy Floridians and non-residents received COVID-19 vaccinations over residents living in poor and rural parts of the state.  The Upholstery Guy believed the reporting was unfair and biased against Governor Ron DeSantis, who he said has done a phenomenal job in managing vaccination of residents of the Sunshine State.  For the record, media outlets have reported on this story well before 60 Minutes, including a February 17 NPR report.

Sensing a potential heated and uncomfortable political back-and-forth, I just let Upholstery Guy’s comments pass without a response.  Yes, he has a right to his opinion. But I maintain it’s not wise to share political, religious or other sensitive beliefs with a customer — especially at 7:30 a.m. 

Similarly, while fishing several years ago with a friend up in Northern Wisconsin, the guide we hired one afternoon shared repeated criticism and calloused remarks about Democrats. And, while on my getaway to Galena, Illinois last November, the owner of the bed-and-breakfast where I stayed somewhat boldly declared: “I hate Chicago.”

Again, to get this on the record: I have voted Democratic most of my life, and I have lived in Chicago most of my life. I will defend Upholstery Guy, the Wisconsin Guide and the Galena Gentleman’s right to their respective opinions — although not to the death.  (Sorry, Voltaire.)

But from a dollars and cents perspective, I would not hire Upholstery Guy again, Wisconsin Guide got a smaller tip, and we’ll seek other accommodations the next time Galena is on the travel agenda.  Yes, our furniture looks great, my buddy and I caught lots of crappie, and I thoroughly enjoyed the three nights last fall in the historic home.

All three experiences would have been better minus the pointed rhetoric.

 

New PRSA Strategic Initiative Direly Needed Now

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

We’ve all probably have had to address this situation: Finding continuing value in membership in an organization or association, especially one that requires an ongoing financial commitment. The question that surfaces when the renewal notice arrives: “Is it time to stop sending hard-earned dollars to maintain membership?”

For the record, I have been a member of the Public Relations Society of America since 2002.  I joined PRSA initially because it was a requirement to pursue the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential, which I earned in 2004.

Over the years, PRSA membership has been pivotal in my evolution and growth as a modern communications professional. I’ve gained from volunteer work on committees, through webinars, and by attendance at national and local events.  Plus, I’ve built strong professional relationships with people from coast to coast. So, come July, I will renew my membership.

A recent PRSA initiative reinforced and solidified my commitment to the Society and its values: The launch of Voices4 Everyone, an encompassing digital resource that’s rooted at the foundations of what we do: Initiate and disseminate honest, ethical and strategic communications that contributes to the betterment of society; pursue fairness; encourage discourse. 

Like all sound programs, Voices4Everyone is structured around a defined platform that will address disinformation, diversity and inclusion, civility, and civic engagement. Given the incessant proliferation of caustic misinformation across segments of both the public and private sectors, it’s appropriate that the nation’s foremost organization of communicators take on this challenge. 

As noted in a recent email from PRSA 2021 Chair Michelle Olson, APR, Voices4Everyone will benefit communicators through “ongoing professional development, curated content on critical matters, data-driven information and essential tools and resources.” This includes the option to contribute content to the site, one I plan to consider soon.

All who read this are encouraged to share the site and add their voice to this new PRSA initiative. With all that’s going on in the world today, our voices are very much needed.

 

 

 

So, Have I Been “Side Hustling” All These Years?

A Google search for “freelance image” resulted in many images of modern offices or laptops featuring men or women who clearly were models. So, I opted for this image: My freelance (or “side hustle”) workplace.

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA

What I remember most about the interview was that the subject, a jazz musician, was passionate about his craft and employed terms like “modal” and “atonal” during our phone conversation. Yes, I had to look up the words — using my big The International Webster New Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language & Library of Useful Knowledge — to better understand what the man was conveying.

This was 1981, and the subject, pianist Adegoke Steve Colson, continues to be a force in modern jazz.  A short profile on Mr. Colson was my first freelance writing assignment; the piece appeared in the Illinois Entertainerthe free monthly entertainment magazine still being published. 

I believe I earned $6 for the profile; but I went on to write for the Entertainer for a dozen years, and my passion for music provided the impetus to write for other entertainment periodicals. That led to many other writing and consulting assignments in subjects far beyond the local rock and roll scene.

I still freelance today.

So why share this anecdote? On March 10 I took in “Work Hard; Hustle Harder,” a webinar hosted by the Chicago Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, of which I am a long standing member.  Visit this link to access a copy of the webinar.

The focus of the webinar was how successful public relations professionals balanced their primary jobs with other, extra work, a process that’s now often known as a “side hustle.” Moderator Kirk Hawkins, a former television news reporter and anchor, noted that his primary source of income now centers on real estate sales; yet he sometimes fills in on the weather segment at a Los Angeles station.

The four webinar panelists also shared thoughts on striking out from the corporate environment to follow their passions beyond day-to-day work commitments, which resulted in benefits that transcend earning extra money. Examples shared: Enhancing diversity and inclusion, providing pro bono communications support, and solidifying the entrepreneurial spirit.

The enthusiasm and candor shared certainly was inspirational.  Yet, during the conversation, the phrase “freelance” was not mentioned. That prompted me to post this message in the Q&A box:  “Great exchange of information and ideas here. But to follow up on Rachel’s comment: Is it beneficial or even appropriate to continue to propogate (sic) the term ‘side hustle?’ The word ‘hustle’ has a negative connotation; the noun form is defined as ‘a fraud or swindle. What happened to ‘freelance’ work?”

As the hour time allotment for the webinar moved toward the closing time of 6:30 p.m., Mr. Hawkins shared my question. However, there was no time left to debate the issue.

So, I shift this question to you, dear reader: Is “side hustle” an appropriate term for a temporary or infrequent job, given the long-standing definition of “hustle?”

An aside: My Webster’s dictionary notes that the noun version of “hustle” is slang for “prostitute.” On the other hand, the definition of “freelance” is: “pertaining to the manner of working of a writer, artist, or actor not under contract or employed by another.”

Please share your thoughts and observations.  Me, I still plan to continue hustling freelance gigs for a while.

 

Dog Poop and Parking Dibs: Today’s Topics of Conversation

An example of double parking space dibs on a residential street near our home. Felt it best not to share an image of the other topic of this post.

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

Now that some of the big stories of late — the 2020 Presidential election, January 6 domestic terrorist insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol, and crippling power outage across the Lone Star state — have evolved and are somewhat moved from top-of-mind conversation, there are other, more localized, news to consider.

Please note that the focus of this post is to not diminish the importance of major news; but rather, today the goal is to recognize the need for a break from the grab-you-by-the-lapels kind of news.

For insight into these “lesser” issues, I looked to Nextdoor, that ubiquitous online community forum that allows you and your neighbors to share thoughts, observations, and insight on just about any issue germane and relevant (or not) to your block or neighborhood. 

From a full-disclosure perspective, I subscribe to the Nextdoor group that covers the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago. But frequently, communications cross my screen that originate in other nearby North Side neighborhoods. Common discussions center on the best delivered mac and cheese, alerts advising awareness of the strange man lurking outside the local Starbucks, or questions on hiring a dependable person to clean your apartment.

Two popular topic threads that have garnered participation in the past few days have origins in the region’s recovery from a near month of heavy snow and brutal cold: Pet owners who fail to retrieve dog droppings, and an end to Chicago parking dibs, or the practice of reserving a shoveled out on-street space.

Here are just two examples of these topics I found recently on Nextdoor:

Dog waste. Hi Neighbors, It’s hard not to notice the abundant amount of dog waste on the ground, especially with limited walking space from the snow. It’s a health hazard, attracts rats and is disgusting to step in (both humans and pets).

Car tires slashed over dibs spot. Parked on the street at 4927 N. Troy at about 845pm. 2 guys in a grey jeep with a yellow plow pulled up and I heard them say “is that the one” but I didn’t think anything of it. Just went to go check on the car because I had a bad feeling and yep. Someone slashed the 2 passenger side tires.

Yes, there are many others, all with replies, some citing outrage at the lack of common courtesy and decency.

Still with me? Here’s why I’m addressing such commonplace topics: After 12 months of news dominated by the pandemic, national unrest, and a serious threat to our democracy — we all need a break! Or at least I do. Nextdoor and other hyperlocal online sites reinforce to me that everyday aspects of our day-to-day lives have importance. And from another perspective, the information shared demonstrates people care about their community.

With the snow melting and spring on the distant horizon, I wonder: What seemingly insignificant topics will drive Nextdoor posts in the weeks ahead?

Regardless, I will continue to watch were I step, and where I park.

Afterwards: PRSA Chicago Panel Talks Impact of Pandemic, Unrest

linkedin.com/in/peggyaustingsc

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA

The value of regular, timely, accurate and effective during the most serious public threat of our lifetimes and ongoing national discordance encapsulates the perspectives shared by a panel of communicators last week during “It’s 2021 — What Now?”, a live webinar hosted by PRSA Chicago. Now, nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clearly apparent that the global health crisis tested the mettle of those responsible for disseminating and helping to shape news, as did the protests and political turmoil of the past several months.

The discussion was moderated by Peggy Austin, president of GoldStar Communications, and featured four senior-level professionals.  Here are responses to Ms. Austin’s opening line of questions regarding the pandemic and civil unrest: What are the key issues faced by your organization or client? And, are they still present?

Below is my best effort to paraphrase responses from the panelists.

  • Deborah Song, Director of Public Affairs, Cook County Health: Cook County Health is the largest healthcare facility in the Midwest. With a big event, there’s a beginning and an end. But with the outbreak of some unknown respiratory illness, we don’t know when this will end. The pandemic is a not a sprint, but a marathon. I’ve been training for this my entire career. When will it end? I don’t know, but we have to communicate effectively. We have to take it day by day.
  • Maura Farrell, Managing Director, Kivit: The big issue is gaining trust and knowing your audience. knowing who to reach. More employees are working remotely now, and we had to employ tools to work with the media to build trust. Trust and communications go hand in hand. I’ve never felt more confident as a communicator in this industry. We’re in a position to help restore trust. 
  • Brandon Carter, Marketing & Communications Manager, Sand Valley Resort: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on our resort. Being in the travel industry, we have to deal with the question: Who is willing to travel these days? Our priorities are the safety of our guests and staff. We’re fortunate being in Central Wisconsin; we’re close to the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison. We focused our communications on the region, and we had to be sensitive to people’s travel concerns.
  • Kelli Teno, Director, Pharmacy and Healthcare Services Communications, Walgreens: One of the biggest challenges we faced at Walgreens was the pace at which things were changing, and on such a large scale. We had to make changes based around safety policies at stores, first for COVID testing, and now for administration of vaccines. The information we share has to be accurate and informative to consumers. We have to focus on clarity and transparency. We have to tell consumers: “Here’s what we know, and here’s what we don’t know.”

Now, my thoughts.

As noted in the webinar last week, understanding your audience, your stakeholders, is vital in all effective communications, especially when communicating vital messages during the sustained crisis situations that have erupted over the past 11-plus months. Sharing accurate, cogent messages paramount. The outstanding communicators above exemplified the value of strategic and ethical communications as we advance toward solutions in the (hopefully) near future.

Miss the February 10 webinar?  Visit this link to view the recorded version and take in the balance of this excellent conversation.

A Prediction for Super Bowl LV

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

In around 60 minutes from now, much of the nation — and a good part of the rest of the world — will be engaged in the contest to determine whether a team led by arguably the best player ever to play his position or one who may define the game for the foreseeable future will capture football’s storied trophy.

Yes, it’s almost time for Super Bowl LV, so I trust you have your pizzas ordered, your beer chilled, and if you are of the wagering kind, your bets made.

Me, I’m baking a chicken and may have a glass or two of red; today’s single-digit temperatures are not really beer-drinking weather. Even indoors.

As for gambling, I’ll stick with the occasional Illinois Lottery ticket.

This “love fridge” is located on the 2900 block of N. Milwaukee Avenue, right outside a family-run supermarket. Yes, I’ve donated canned and packaged goods, a small act of kindness, I know.

Back to the focus of his short post. For the balance of this evening, many in America figuratively will come together to watch football, and perhaps eat and drink too much. The great issues and challenges facing the nation seemingly will be put on hold, until tomorrow.

You know what I’m referring to, too many topics to mention, perhaps.

One is encapsulated here in the above image, which shows a “love fridge,” a network of free pantries located across Chicago and supported by people who want to help those who don’t have enough to eat.

For those of us who are fortunate, hunger will not be an issue tonight. But, I predict it will remain an issue — a maddening problem in the greatest and wealthiest nation on earth.

So perhaps tomorrow, the day after Super Bowl LV, we can collectively take on and mitigate the perplexing and distressing factors ahead in 2021. The relatively small step of establishing street side food banks is a step forward. It demonstrates the value of kindness.

As for what takes place on the field in Tampa Bay, all I predict is an exciting athletic contest, insightful commentary and lots of entertaining commercials.

Light and Hope Amidst the Darkness

By Edward M. Bury, MA, APR (aka The PRDude)

Yes, the year that just passed was dark.  And, the month that’s about to pass included a day that was among the darkest in this nation’s history.

Realistically, there will be many other dark days ahead. 

So, like many, I try to find signs of light and signs of hope amidst the current darkness — driven by the pandemic, financial distress for many, and the seemingly unrelenting civil unrest.

I found them in the images below. These restaurants and taverns are located walking distance from our home in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago.

When these images were taken last week, all of the establishments shown here were shuttered by the Chicago of Chicago due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have reopened recently under relaxed restrictions. Unfortunately, one is now for sale. All continue to keep their lights turned on.

One can contend that it’s wasteful for closed businesses to keep their exterior and even interior lights shining.  I believe the illumination is therapeutic and beneficial, providing optimism for a return to normalcy, a return to the simple pleasure of enjoying a sandwich or glass of beer (or two) away from home.

From a positive perspective: The outlook for Illinois is improving, with more vaccines administered and lower COVID-19 positivity rates in recent days. Let’s keep this trend going.

For the record, I have patronized all of the establishments shown below. I hope they will keep the lights blazing for years to come.

This lively spot on Kedzie Av. across from the Logan Blue Line station is known for sangria and paella.
Located on a busy stretch of Milwaukee Avenue, Saba Italian Bar + Kitchen features excellent pasta and pizza.
We dined at this eclectic restaurant for Valentine’s Day 2020. Would welcome a return visit next month.
During a neighborhood stroll this week, the Walk In was open. I did not walk in.
Located right on Logan Square, we patronized four different establishments at this location literally for decades. Unfortunately, Merchant will not re-open.
Once a scary bar on a then desolate stretch of Milwaukee Avenue, the Owl became a favorite 4 a.m. hipster hangout.
And last, Small Bar, the corner place around the corner from our home, and one of my favorite places on earth. Note to my friend and bartender Katy: Rest assured. I will take my seat at the window soon.

A Task Perhaps Not Acknowledged, But Imperative Today on Capitol Hill

Image courtesy of JoeBiden.com

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

When Joe Biden removes his hand from the Bible and officially accepts the greatest challenge offered to an American, he then will present his outlook on the direction the nation will take over the upcoming four years.

Unquestionably, the message will center on healing a nation that during recent days had its very foundation and values plundered, and in fact, Mr. Biden’s inaugural theme is “America United.” Yes, that’s a very simple concept, one that’s somewhat superfluous given that Mr. Biden was elected President of the United States of America.

But when he steps up to the podium, Mr. Biden will have to transcend a message that simply centers on the dire need for national unity; he’ll have to say much more. His rhetoric will have to be profound, memorable and believable.

From another perspective, the new President will have to present “sound bites” that will resonate through the millions of American who voted for him, as well as the millions who did not.

At this hour — with the Presidential Inaugural about to commence — I wonder what specific parables, metaphors and phrases the speech writer (or writers) prepared for Mr. Biden. What words will define four years of the nation’s 46th President?  What words will be quoted in print and shared on broadcast outlets and digital platforms?

The job of the speechwriter certainly is behind-the-scenes.  Acknowledgement is not immediate.

A little while from now, the words prepared by the men and women on Mr. Biden’s communications team will define his presidency, and hopefully guide the nation down a more peaceful and productive path.

I’ll be listening.

 

 

 

Upfront Q&A with Col. Ann Knabe, PhD, APR

Col. Ann Peru Knabe, PhD, APR

By Edward M. Bury, MA, APR (aka The PRDude)

Reaching the apex of success in one aspect of communications is highly impressive. My friend and colleague Ann Knabe, PhD, APR reached that pinnacle three times. As noted in this first public relations professional profile of 2021, Ann — who I met some 10 years ago while serving on the Universal Accreditation Board — delves into the decision that launched her three-decade career, shares insight on working at the Pentagon, expounds upon the state of modern public relations and much more.

1. You have had a remarkable career that spans military service, instruction at the university level, and more recently, work in the private sector. What inspired you to pursue communications?

I followed my heart! When I started out as an undergrad at Marquette, I was originally pre-law, majoring in history and political science, thinking about a big corporate paycheck. To pay the bills during college, I was a DJ at a night club (with real vinyl records, I might add), and my boss suggested I go into “PR” because he thought I was good a good communicator and knew how to work with the media. So I switched my major and never looked back. After I changed majors, I also switched my part-time role in the Air Force Reserve, from medic to a public affairs role. That’s when I really started getting involved in strategic communication. I now have more than 30 years in Air Force public affairs, and 25 years in PR, including consulting for businesses, teaching public relations at a university, and volunteering in the veterans and public relations communities. The common thread among all of these is building relationships between key stakeholders, and working towards mutual understanding, whether it’s during crisis or a long-term strategic communications campaign. Today my favorite part of PR is strategic planning with an emphasis on research and meaningful evaluation.

2.  You’re the first professional profiled here who has experience in military public affairs. Please share insight on key responsibilities and an anecdote.

When I first started in public affairs with an Air Force Reserve unit in Milwaukee, we broke our work into 4 broad areas: internal communications, community relations, media relations and congressional relations. I was primarily a writer, but also “jill of all trades.” In 1997, one of our planes crashed while attempting to land at Tegucigalpa Airport in Honduras. Three members of our wing were killed in the accident. It was tragic. The crash and resulting public affairs response helped me gain great appreciation of the power of media, the power of words, the importance of media relations, and the importance of being ready for crisis. This would shape my interests in the years to come. After more than 20 years at the local wing, I found my way to the Pentagon, and worked in public affairs for the Secretary of the Air Force. In this role, I participated in more complex strategic communications, including messaging about the nuclear triad, acquisition, personnel and other tough issues. As a Reservist who would fly into D.C. for duty during the summer months (when I wasn’t teaching), it seemed daunting at first, but the military does an excellent job growing their officers and instilling confidence. And, of course, there were many deployments along the way – including several tours in the Middle East, a six-month tour when I served as the Guantanamo War Court’s Pentagon spokesperson, and a tour at U.S. Central Command in Florida where I did public affairs planning for the Middle East and Afghanistan. In every role, I faced new challenges, but added valuable lessons and skills to my strategic communications toolbox. More recently, I’ve parlayed these skills into an emergency preparedness liaison role focused on preparation for disaster within the United States. 

3. Okay, now let’s turn to modern public relations. What are two key ways the profession has evolved since you began? If you’d like to add a third, please do.

The field of public relations continues to mature and become more strategic in nature. When I started out more than 30 years ago, we were largely focused on tactics. In the last 20 years, I have seen both military senior leaders and C-suite executives seek more meaningful, measurable results from their communication teams. And I’m not talking about numbers of press release sent out, instead, measurable effects on target audiences (how much the audience understands, or how their attitudes or behavior have changed as a result of public relations).

Another change — Within the last decade, we’ve witnessed the exponential growth of social media. I recall back in 2009, I put together the first social media conference at the where I taught, and PR practitioners were just starting to  think about the power of social media. I remember one of my students challenging me in class, saying Facebook was just a fad, and I was wasting class time talking about it. Today, social media is included in the vast majority of PR plans.

A third change  —  which is not so good  —  is the rise of disinformation. Americans need to really think about where their information is coming from, and whether or not it is true. In the last 5 years, we have increasingly seen more individuals with nefarious intent deliberately distribute and publish deceptive information.  This is counter to public relations and our Code of Ethics.

4. Your recent leadership role on the Universal Accreditation Board is admirable. How did your service benefit you professionally, and what challenges are ahead for Accreditation?

Serving on the Universal Accreditation Board has always been an honor, and to chair the UAB for one year was amazing. From a professional perspective, I learned how to be an even more agile leader. COVID threw us a curve ball, and, like all of America, we had to quickly learn how to adapt. Within a short amount of time, we had the entire Accreditation process available online, including computer-based testing in a proctored environment. I am also honored to have led the recent efforts to secure an agreement between the Department of Defense and the UAB concerning their commitment and involvement to the credential. But, perhaps most importantly, despite limited travel and pressure from so many directions, we were able to continue our mission uninterrupted — the maintenance and granting of Accreditation. I was blessed to work with and lead a talented team of professionals from across the nation during one of our most challenging years to date.

5. And, as customary, we conclude with an entertaining type of question. My research indicates you are a Wisconsin native — and more than likely — a Green Bay Packers fan. How can I convince you to switch allegiance to another NFL team? The Chicago Bears perhaps?

Great question, Ed! Full transparency (that’s what we like in PR!) — I am married to a Packers fan, and we have raised two Packers fans. I look at the football games as a time for me to focus on myself and let them enjoy the victory (or defeat) while I give myself a little personal time reading, shopping or getting a massage.

Perhaps more concerning to you, we are a bunch of Milwaukee Brewers fans! We consider Christian Yelich part of our extended family. We are really hoping this summer lets us get back to games at the ballpark in person, even if we have to sit with big gaps to remain socially distant. Apologies if you and your readers are a Cubs or White Sox fans, Brewers will dominate in 2021!

* * *

An aside: As noted in this space on many occasions, I am — and will always remain — a Chicago Cubs fan. That will not jeopardize my friendship with Ann, even after the Cubs win the World Series this season. You read it here first.

 

On What Should Have Been a Slow News Day

Image of the U.S. Capitol courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Edward M. Bury, MA, APR (aka The PRDude)

In the days and months and years leading up to today, did you know that Congress had to officially approve the Electoral College results from the national election held every four years to elect the president of the United States?

Frankly, it was not a subject that ever crossed my mind.

Until today,  of course. Until the simmering madness, mounting discontent and outright fabrication of fact swept across the nation as if guided by the director of a low-budget apocalyptic movie. Until thugs and cowards assaulted the very foundation of this democracy — literally and figuratively.

Yes, today should have been a relatively slow news day. But as I write this post, the news keeps changing, seemingly by the minute.

From what I’ve viewed on television, heard on radio and read online, many are outraged by what’s taking place in the U.S. Capitol. But as I noted in a commentary posted in late December, I refuse to become outraged — especially in this space — over news that could assault the very foundation of what keeps me sane.

No, I will hope and pray for solace, and that our leaders — across all parties — remain steadfast in reuniting the United States of America. I will keep communicating thoughts, opinions and observations based on truth, accuracy and fairness.

Realistically, tomorrow and many days ahead that should be perceived as “slow news days,” will be anything but devoid of breaking developments.  And, yes, I will monitor the news that ushers in outrage and keep it at a distance.