Over the past week I’ve come across a few useful articles and resources.
Organisations I work with often complain that they struggle to get the news media to cover the issues they’re concerned with — issues related to social development. Newspapers in many countries tend to focus on stories of political infighting, scandal, and sport, with little space for anything else. But in an article that appeared in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper last week, journalist Richard M Kavuma argued that this is starting to change — at least in Uganda.
He says what really began to chance journalists’ attitudes was a series on the Millennium Development Goals that appeared in The Weekly Observer in Uganda in 2006. The series of articles won international awards, and made other journalists and newspapers sit up and take notice.
Kavuma points out though, that newspapers are under financial pressure, so editors often prefer to run with sure-fire sellers such as scandal and celebrity gossip. It’s important for NGOs to remember that editors need to find ways to “capture the imagination of the audience.” This means, NGOs and people working in development need to do the same — find creative and imaginative ways of telling their stories.
How to Talk to the News media
Many organisations do have compelling stories to tell, but don’t know how to go about getting the media interested. And those who have had some interaction with the media, often have sad tales to tell about journalists getting the story wrong.
The Committee of Concerned Journalists offers some really useful tips, in an article titled ‘How to Talk to the News Media’. Their tips look at how to suggest stories for coverage, and how to deal with any complaints and corrections you might have.