Spring forward by getting real

Posted on April 5, 2010


Here in early April, the economy is showing it’s own signs of springing. Auto sales are springing forward, existing-home sale contracts are springing upward and everyone’s 401(k) is springing back to life a bit. By the time summer approaches, I suppose we’ll be saying Americans are in “some-are” mode–some are doing great, some are doing much better and some are still stuck in the shallows of ongoing unemployment that is proving both stubborn and tragic for many families.

As communicators, what can we do to contribute to better times in our writing and reporting? Here are six ideas:

  • Don’t be pulled into the extremist camps that have transformed collaboration into bellowing partisanship. Conduct your own examination of conditions and attitudes instead of only accepting the easy sound bites from the far sides of the opposing camps.
  • From the Overheard in the Newsroom site on Facebook: Older reporter: “This story is going to be amazingly similar to this news release.” Do some interviews, gather some facts and write a balanced piece about what is going on in the economy. Releases are fine for communicating story ideas–but they are not the story.
  • Participate, participate, participate in social media. The best way to find out what demographic groups and geographic sectors are really thinking is to listen to them directly and engage them in conversation. Ask a question on LinkedIn and see the large number of responses you’ll receive in no time. Start a group or fan page/like page on Facebook for gathering unfiltered opinions.
  • Demolish stereotypes. Media outside Detroit, for example, tend to write off the city as a hopeless cause, but local media there are becoming excited over first-of-a-kind plans to support viable neighborhoods and transform others into areas for agriculture and biomass cultivation.
  • Start respecting the best in people instead of exacavating the worst. Everyone has made mistakes and everyone has potential for helping others in untapped ways. We don’t need to overlook the mistakes to acknowlege the potential and report the initiatives of those making even small efforts to boost themselves and their communities.
  • Think globally, and seek out solutions that entrepreneurs and social leaders in other nations have developed to confront the issues of our day. Remember that the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle came from Japan, the CT scan was invented by an Englishman and a South African, and the Big Bang Theory initially was developed in Belgium.

Let’s get real in our communications. Balanced reporting is not setting forth the most distant sides of every argument, but rather reporting the many green shoots that emerge as spring takes hold and hopes for summer bloom.