When reporting the news, it is the five W’s.
Who is it about?
When did it take place?
Where did it take place?
Why did it happen?
And sometimes a sixth question gets asked from the guy or gal with the reporter’s top spiral ringed notebook. How did it happen?
And it’s all about taking meticulous notes, gleaning quotes collected in the hen scratching shorthand. Or fielded with a handheld micro audio recorder, video camera’s blinking red light. To capture the news maker. Catchy soundbites that pretty much size it up in the news maker’s own words. Make it you are there. With the person in the news or in the know for the show and tell. That’s the way it is as Walter would drawl. Slowly removing his black rim glasses with one hand. A stack of news held in the other. Saying goodnight with a warm trusting smile. You believed him. It was all the news fit to air, print, circulate.
Stepping around the journalist alone in the news organization. Peeling off one level of the news reporting, layering means let the interviewee talk. Just listen. To the guy or gal who knows way way more about the topic. So you see, hear in their own words. Complete with inflection, strain, pain, excitement, pause, raised eyebrow or the tip toeing. Dancing around the subject. Because you’ve all heard the question posed and had the scratch your head feeling.
Saying out loud “just answer the question”! Politicians are famous for carrying a list of bullet points. That somehow regardless of the query, the topics are sliced, diced. Seasoning, sprinkled, spread all over the interview. Injected, infused into the news reporting from questions asked that get these facts and figures, sentiments weaved into the Q & A discussion slyly. It is an art to say how did they make that connection to something out of nowhere. You think.
So what about editorials in Maine?
In some European countries they are on the front page. And don’t have to be as long as your arm diatribes of rhetoric fed in paragraph form only riding tucked inside the newsprint folds. Cartoons, images to prove the news organization opinion on a subject it finds pertinent to hash and thrash. Beyond the 5 W’s. And along with the opinion piece, often there is a place in the newspaper, magazine or newscast for “Man on the street” pieces across the crease. For reaction to earlier editorials. To make it fair and balanced, news and opinion. The needed clarification coming at you in two way fashion. To expand on a topic, issue. With collective, not just one voice sounding out.
In Maine, the 4th lowest crime state, our news gathering, reporting is pretty tame. Compared to places with gang turf wars, political corruption, sex scandals, drive by shootings that are a given in the daily diet of local reporting. More people, bigger problems, greater saturation of negative news fed into the stream. But do you think that is the kind people like, that sells papers, gets viewer ratings?
Do we live in a negative reporting society by choice? Low on hope, cynical, quick to judge. Maybe attempting to make serious subjects, issues into a comic book over simplification? Is that the way you lead your life?
Shouldn’t your new sources operate with the same approach to life? Or do you argue it just reflects the good, bad and the very ugly? And if you are unhappy, does learning about someone worse off somehow spur you on as one of the lucky ones? Making you count your blessings.
Do you ever get cranked up over editorials with an obvious agenda?
When the day after day hammering, lashing is happening? To the point you cringe, cower. Don’t really want to tap into that signal. Because of the bitter after taste hearing, seeing it in print? But not just because you see the spin being applied and let it go as sad, for what it is. Mean spirited. Sometimes coming off as a hatred, attack knee jerk. And other more important subjects are not addressed that are screaming for the attention. Helping hand. Even if not so handsome, sexy, trending or easy to beat the drum about out of habit. Or that might take time away from what the editor really wants to see addressed over and over.
Leaving me wondering what good comes out of this waste of space that could be so so beneficial, supportive and insightful. With real solutions offered. Spread out over a multi part series of solutions, stances for the same goal. To help readers, listeners, views. Not the often same angry condescending regurgitation copy and paste points. From earlier editorial recycled venom. More often than not some individual or a group or political party the punching bag. Battered newspaper or newscast syndrome happens.
The population that picks up the signal gets depressed, not trusting many of the national, state or community leaders. What did we do wrong now? Kick the state some more to be feeling the shame of how we seem to come up so short across the board. Just about the same time when locals were feeling pretty high about accomplishments in a complex World we live in. Could some of it be the voice of a transplant not happy where they lived before either? Hand the megaphone, typewriter to another with a more positive approach to rally around. With a little praise for what we do right in so so many ways in Maine. And gentler, kinder prodding on how to step it up in other areas needing spotlight exposure.
A steady diet of “what did we do wrong now” is literary abuse.
It is lazy too. And maybe a little like the sea captain pirate. Who reminds all those down below rowing and manning, loading the long canon guns. That the beatings will continue until the morale improves drastically. The readers need more than water and bread spread across the pages.
There should be a requirement of before the dissing, cussing, fussing what is the variety of solutions getting the bulk of the ink or airtime. The tone, attitude, approach of your news machines is so so important to be pro-active in a state like Maine with 108 small towns, a handful of cities. Where individual volunteers, families, civic groups are working so hard to make a difference.
To huddle, chatter it up in the dug out, on the bench, out in the field like a Maine little league team.
To be constructive, informative, teaching life lessons. That make their area of Maine a little better place to live, work, play. And the media individuals, organizations out for a pound of flesh need to develop a more positive solution oriented approach. The one we all take on the local level in Maine. Rather than the finger pointing, scolding attitude in their editorial stance that does so much harm. That causes newspaper cancellations, broadcast dials to be cranked hard, changed up.