This year has been a challenging one for the media, constantly under attack and struggling to react, respond, and be fair and balanced.
Years ago I started a blog with the vision of “using the media to make a difference.” I remembered growing up how much the big shared television experiences brought everyone around the country closer together: everything from The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, to the Kennedy assassination, to the 1969 moon landing.
Well, the media does make a difference. We certainly know that words have consequences now.
Unfortunately, the media is infinitely more powerful than the people using it are skillful. Far too often the conversations promoted in media snowball into something far more nefarious, misleading and confusing than anyone might have imagined.
So how do we wrest the awesome power of the media to use it for the betterment of humankind?
Here are my Five Tips for Using The Media To Make A Difference
Recognize the awesome power of media. Words really do matter. Images matter. What else forms the basis of all our thoughts and beliefs than what we hear and see projected outside of us? Reporters can tell stories and provide context to help us better figure out our world in a meaningful way. But why wait for the media to fix themselves? You can make a difference with every post you make and each story you share. Did you fact-check? Are you providing meaningful context?
Don’t fight fire with fire. The only thing fighting fire with fire accomplishes is burning the whole house down. Our darkest impulses of anger, name-calling and worse, is part of the problem, no matter how good or noble our cause. It doesn’t help move us forward. Far more powerful to learn the art to persuasion and use it wisely.
Don’t label people. See the bigger picture. I’ve seen far too many bullies break down and cry with the deepest remorse to not believe there is a higher goodness (potentially) in everyone. Yes, everyone.
Find something you have in common with another – When 40,000 people at Wrigley Field root for the Cubs, some are Democrats and some are Republicans, but all are Cubs fans. We’re all on the same team. Same is true with humanity here on Planet Earth.
If all else fails, at least be professional – it can be very disarming. Play “what if” – as in, how would you present an opposing viewpoint to a valued client? Muster the respect you’d like to have to bring out the best in others. And if they don’t want to hear you, acknowledge that. Maybe we need to do more listening, too.
At some point we all might be asking ourselves, is this enough? What more can I do? What am I willing to do? How can I change the minds and reach the hearts of people whose actions harm innocent people? How can I fix the world?
Open your mind to new perspectives, and be curious, professional, and respectful. That’s a good place to start.
Diane Reed is a former media executive who now provides marketing orchestration for people who want to make the world a better place. She's currently writing a book, The Art of Spin.