“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” If you turn on your local news you know what the answer is. The news more often than not reminds us of all that is wrong in our community and world.
I’ve often heard people ask, “Why isn’t there any good news on TV?” The reality is, there are plenty of good things happening all over, and these stories sometimes make it to the airwaves.
For example, in Atlanta, there’s a gentleman who is teaching kids life skills through the game of chest. His name is Orrin Hudson, and this guy is serious about what he does. Hudson is a former Alabama State Trooper who started a non-profit called Be Someone. To say that teaching youngsters how to play chess is his passion, is almost an understatement.
Hudson knows about my media background, and every time I see him he asks me, “Amani, what can I do to take my program to the next level. I want to get the word out.” The thing is he’s doing a great job. The media loves his story. All of the local TV stations have covered his chess workshops, he’s been in a bunch of newspapers, and when he takes his show on the road, the media shows up.
Getting a positive story covered in news can be an uphill battle though. Why? Because of human nature, people are naturally drawn to the unusual. We pay attention to discord, conflict, and drama. Think about your morning commute. You might deal with a fair amount of traffic which could slow you down, but if there’s an accident what happens? Cars stop. Is it the flashing lights, the sight of mangled metal, or just the curiosity of what happened?
Years ago, newspaper publishers figured out that sex, scandal, and murder gets people’s attention. It’s no different in broadcast news. Plus, stories involving crime are usually easy to cover. At any murder scene there will be investigators, yellow tape, flashing lights, a body. There are investigators to interview, and family members of the slain victim. If the family won’t talk, there will surely be a neighbor who will offer up some kind of sound. “This is a quiet neighborhood, something like this never happens.” It’s like clockwork. There’s your lead story at six o’clock.
The Louisiana Weekly recently posted a column by Robert Taylor that addresses some of these issues. Taylor suggests that positive stories will come out of community building and good will.
The starting point for eventually generating positive news coverage is by doing positive things. Thus, the following should become our New Year’s resolutions: Starting in 2008, you are to do something unexpectedly nice or constructive for someone or some group once a month, every month for the entire year. Secondly, you are to correct at least one wrong each month. We have all made mistakes or failed to do something we should have done. The correction may range from an apology to paying a debt to a friend or family member.
If nothing else that idea could create a greater sense of community, and unity. I’ll direct your attention back to Orrin Hudson. He always seems amazed by the media interest he generates. I’m not as surprised. When it comes down to it, news editors, management, and reporters like the same thing, a good story; it’s just harder to get their attention from the car wreck that’s slowing you down from reaching your goal.
Interview with Orrin Hudson, Be Someone Inc.