Jan 8, 2010

Journalism that Matters, part two

Notes from the Journalism that Matters Conference breakout hosted by The Daily of University of Washington.

Eeeek. It was so hard to pick a session. The sessions were created by attendees who had a desire to host sessions, so totally on-topic…..and so desirable! Sustainable Seattle attended the session focusing on respect in communications. We attended with Ashoka/Youth Venture (an organization that creates continuous chain of empathy for youth 12-20, empathy in action, and a change maker campus program, and changemakers.com where there is a local and global) and WA Farm worker Housing Trust (a nonprofit that does policy and advocacy to ensure farm workers have a safe place by working with all the stakeholders to find common ground, a strategy that is working with state legislature!).

Our session host, Kristin Millis, posed the notion if journalists listen and respect the public, readers, and those we write stories about, news and media entities would be more trusted and would stay in business.

  • · All stories are newsworthy: What ever anyone has to say, has value to them, so that individual should be treated with respect. If you can’t provide them coverage, offer them resources.
  • · There is always a story: There is always truth in a story: Stop, listen, ask, find out more, take the time to find out more. Take the time to listen.

With a journalist at the table with three nonprofit representatives, we adapted these lessons to our efforts: Nonprofits tell stories too- we need to ensure the stories we tell are accurate to our community, and we can do this by listening, and by telling the stories that fulfill our goals and provide information for better decisions (by nourishing people and encouraging action) and that provide a context – the good, the norm and the bad – not just the bad. Nonprofits also are conduits for changing behavior. Collaborating with others in getting the message out is a great way to get the message out, and is cost effective- in many ways! Collaborating in communicating also allow the nonprofit and all to get a better idea of the story.

Journalism is funded by advertisers. So- we asked about the proof in the pudding: As the UW Daily focused on respect, it took leaps and bounds in national advertising and has done well comparatively in the economic times, with drops about half as much as others. Local advertising composition changed, with overall growth in local advertising. New room costs dropped because staff became more effective at their jobs.

Tips for non-profits -How to sell a story: Come into a newsroom and talk to someone. Don’t make an appointment and show up in the mornings or early afternoons. Try to find a reporter and build rapport. When you send a press release, don’t make it look like a press release- use real working, from the heart. Give the journalist something to write about. Tell the journalist what the nutgraph is (what is the heart of it? What is the story about? What is the most important thing) Give the journalist a list people and their contact information and why that person is a good person to talk to. Send photos that connect the journalist to the story. Give the other side of the story- even a hint – of who and what that story is. Who have you talked to? Let us know who.

1 comment:

  1. Hi this is Amira Robinson-Lewis (UW student), I sat at a table with Nathan Jackson from Sustainable Seattle on Saturday. I just read part two of your post and am thankful to hear that you see things the way you do, you seemed to have walked away with so much, I didn't get to attend everyday and I wish I could have, but it was nice to meet everyone that I met and I really appreciated reading your thoughts on the event just now.

    Take Care.