I was thinking the other day that when I first came to Philadelphia, I used to watch "Action News" from a local channel. Where is the action in the news? Global, national, and local events of import do wake us up to the importance of collaboration, and community. Rarely we learn about many of the less visible organizations and situations we can help and affect personally.
I was reading some well thought out advice to traditional and local news media by Chris Brogan who writes about the business applications of social media and social networks. One part caught my attention. Where he talks about switching sensations for causes and empowerment:
We put a premium on stories of what’s going wrong. Of course, it’s important to know about some of the bad news we’re getting out there, but why aren’t stories about where we can help coming to the fore in LOCAL news? Why aren’t we learning about people doing great work more often? Right now, they have that slot at the very end of the newscast, where the two or three people on desk make that weird half smile.
Push the empowerment stories up, and bring that into your deep web coverage as well.
A National Example of the Power of the News Media
The Philadelphia Inquirer covered the result of a special report by The Washington Post on Walter Reed, the Army's Top Medical Facility. The reporting prompted a series of investigations and got the attention of many people, including the President who promised change and delivered on it. All because the reporters and those who brought the story to their attention acted on behalf of the community the hospital was supposed to serve.
The biggest change being how the center's mission has shifted from one of passive wound dressing and curing (at least when it worked for that) to one of reinvention of how the Army deals with its injured -- bringing the center in line with the demands of modern soldiers and modern warfare. According to Mark Bowden, "injured soldiers are now seen to have a mission of their own: to return as quickly as possible to active duty. So [...] the center has reorganized to accomplish that goal."
A Local Take on the Power of New Media
Yes, we often have coverage of an initiative between a non profit organization and the community; although these days it's the advertising dollars that buy the in depth piece as sponsored by businesses. One example is the partnership of United Way of South Eastern Pennsylvania with Independence Blue Cross (IBC) called Partners in Caring. In addition to the donation of a 60 by 20 billboard emblazoned with the Partners in Caring theme on I-95 near the sports arenas in south Philadelphia, to promote the message as widely as possible, IBC has donated a Web site.
What would happen if, as Chris hints at, we pushed the empowerment stories up, and bring deep web coverage integrated with new media tools? What would happen if, as I stated a while back, main stream media facilitated more connections of ideas and people? Would we have more actionable news?