Tune In for Good News

25 Jun

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Gaynor Hall wrote an astonishing piece for WGN TV website (http://wgntv.com/2013/06/24/media-and-violence-in-chicago/) on a topic we have all talked about, that of the media and its coverage of violence in Chicago. For quite a while now I have had a Google alert for the Austin neighborhood and almost every feed I get has the words shot, dead, or wounded somewhere in the headline. I rarely open them, not because I do not care about the individuals whose lives have been taken for petty and often irrational reasons, but rather because it makes me feel helpless. I also admit that I chose to let my writing reflect Thumper Rabbit’s philosophy “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothing at all.” And yes, I do realize I just quoted a cartoon rabbit from a 70 year old Disney movie; the value expressed is an integral part of my life.

In her piece, Hall spoke to Robert Douglas, a college student whose life went off track after the senseless death of his brother as well as Suzanne McBride, journalism professor at Columbia College, and several local publishers. While all of them offered valid points, I was most astonished by Suzanne McBride, until I read her bio on the Columbia College site and realized she is also the founder of AustinTalks.org (http://austintalks.org/). She pointed out that if all the media covers in Austin is crime, it does a disservice to its readers and to the community as violence “doesn’t really tell…the rich history and life for… (the) communities.” The on-line publication Dnainfo.com/Chicago (http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/2012-chicago-murders) made the decision to tell the personal story of every homicide victim, granting them dignity in death but more importantly, recognition of their life.

The take away from this is that we need to combat the so-called scoreboard coverage, as N’Digo Magazine publisher Hermene Hartman so aptly named it. Headlines such as “Six Shot in Austin Over the Weekend” do little to move us to take action and so very often make people tune out. Instead, as a community, we need to tell family narratives, tracing the people who have achieved success, in spite of the odds, or talking about the resiliency of individuals in our families and communities. We need to acknowledge the positive and show that the people who do not make the ten o’clock news matter more as they are the ones who define our individual sense of self.

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3 Responses to “Tune In for Good News”

  1. Natasha June 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Laurie thank you for your continued support and staying the course with your blog posts! I think you always do a great job of framing the blogs to help us think about what we should be trying to do. You’re right it is easy to discuss the obvious but what about the things that are tough and need collective energy to address.

    • pyramidplayersproductions July 1, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

      I wish there was a “small” list of things each of us could do- not the GIANT mission/vision statements but a small list of things that could be posted for each of us to do to bring about a change.

      • beejay5804 July 2, 2013 at 1:42 am #

        So a couple of things: one – we do need a scorecard but not one that just focuses on “what had happened was…” and telling us about those who are victims but one that tells us more about those who are making it every day – those who are not famous or infamous but who just keep making it up every day and showing that the score is about more than shots fired and death and dying but about “one more day” and what it takes to earn those days and dema nding that folks pay attention. And two, while it is the bricks – one by one – that eventually build the cathedral – it is the vision, the imagined scope and scale of the cathedral that really engages our attention and demands that we stay the course – cause while bricks can be held, it is vision that keeps us committed to taking one brick at a time and knowing that a catedral is the eventual end!
        Just saying…….

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