Media Want News & Human Interests, Not Pitches for Funds FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 22 Nov 1998 20:43:21 -0400


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http://www.freep.com:80/voices/columnists/qheath22.htm
FWD  Detroit [Michigan, USA] Free Press - November 22, 1998



THERE'S PLENTY OF GOOD NEWS,
BUT WE NEED HELP FINDING IT

by Heath Meriwether,
publisher of the Free Press


Why don't you ever cover any good news?

It's a question I'm asked a lot, especially as
we move into the giving season for
thousands of good causes - including some
of our own.

I was asked to speak about it last Tuesday at
the annual luncheon for Lighthouse of
Oakland County Inc., a social services
group that does an extraordinary amount of
good for thousands of people.

Here is part of what I said:

Are we supposed to be unquestioning boosters of anyone who
professes to do good? Or should we provide analysis,
investigation and information that lets our readers make up their
own minds about how much good is being done, and whether
an organization deserves support?

At least, that's how journalists frame the question. You may be
more familiar with the way our critics frame the question: Why
don't you ever cover positive news?

Lighthouse chief executive Noreen Keating recently gave me a
briefing and tour of what Lighthouse stands for and what it
does, and there are lessons for nonprofits and the media in the
way Keating manipulates people like me.

She didn't ask me for money. Instead, she provided a running
commentary on the issues she cares deeply about: senior citizen
housing in Pontiac (or the lack thereof); the situation that faces
homeless women as they try to rebuild their lives; the plight of
272,000 low-income adults in one of the most prosperous
counties in America; the difference a new or rehabbed home
makes in a neighborhood struggling for stability; and even how
the problems of getting clear title to land in Michigan seriously
impairs effort to revitalize neighborhoods.

My notes from that morning are filled with story ideas from
someone who knows that nothing appeals to people like me
more than news.

As obvious as this seems, you would be amazed at how many
people I meet from nonprofits who never mention news, or
discuss issues. Rather, they approach me as if I should be
ashamed of myself for not being agog over the opportunity to
buy a corporate table for $1,500 for such a good cause. I don't
want to appear ungrateful, because we support lots of these
dinners every year. But you could help us bring you so much
more than our presence at a corporate table.

You know your issues and you know where the news is. You
can help make us better at what we should be best at: providing
understanding that helps build the capacity of our community to
help others.

Keating also told me compelling stories that help our newspaper
get beyond numbers and issues to the heart and soul of what
groups like Lighthouse are about - helping real people.

These people are like Shalon Lee, who five years ago had hit
bottom when she came to Lighthouse's PATH (Pontiac Area
Transitional Housing).

Chemically dependent, homeless, with a toddler, without family
support, Lee was someone whom society so easily writes off,
but to whom Lighthouse offers a hand up if they want to take it.
The day I spoke to Lee, she proudly told me she would be
graduating in December with a master's degree in social work
from the University of Michigan. She couldn't say enough
about what PATH had meant to her: It helped her raise her son
as she went to school; it helped make it possible for her to buy a
home; it helped her get a job as a substance-abuse analyst for
Oakland County.

Stories like hers are important, to break down the stereotypes
and myths of the welfare mother, the homeless, the
drug-addicted and the disadvantaged. Lee used a phrase I
especially liked: social entrepreneur.

What a great description of what Lighthouse has been able to
do: invest in the cause of helping people in need help
themselves.

There is so much energy and creativity expended in the start-ups
and initial public offerings (IPOs) of stock in Silicon Valley and
Automation Alley here in the metro area. But wouldn't it be
wonderful if we could capture that entrepreneurial excitement in
the service of humankind? Maybe we could call such ventures
Initial People Offerings (IPOs) and sell stock in hot properties
for realizing human potential.

That would be an investment that would keep on paying off in
stories like Shalon Lee's. There are a lot more stories like hers
in our communities than you ever see in the media - and we
need your help in changing that.

Heath Meriwether is publisher of the Free Press.

END FORWARD
-
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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http://www.freep.com:80/voices/columnists/qheath22.htm 

FWD  Detroit [Michigan, USA] Free Press - November 22, 1998            
           



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>THERE'S PLENTY OF GOOD NEWS,

BUT WE NEED HELP FINDING IT  


by Heath Meriwether,

publisher of the Free Press

</paraindent>


Why don't you ever cover any good news?


It's a question I'm asked a lot, especially as

we move into the giving season for

thousands of good causes - including some

of our own.


I was asked to speak about it last Tuesday at

the annual luncheon for Lighthouse of

Oakland County Inc., a social services

group that does an extraordinary amount of

good for thousands of people.


Here is part of what I said:


Are we supposed to be unquestioning boosters of anyone who

professes to do good? Or should we provide analysis,

investigation and information that lets our readers make up their

own minds about how much good is being done, and whether

an organization deserves support?


At least, that's how journalists frame the question. You may be

more familiar with the way our critics frame the question: Why

don't you ever cover positive news?


Lighthouse chief executive Noreen Keating recently gave me a

briefing and tour of what Lighthouse stands for and what it

does, and there are lessons for nonprofits and the media in the

way Keating manipulates people like me.


She didn't ask me for money. Instead, she provided a running

commentary on the issues she cares deeply about: senior citizen

housing in Pontiac (or the lack thereof); the situation that faces

homeless women as they try to rebuild their lives; the plight of

272,000 low-income adults in one of the most prosperous

counties in America; the difference a new or rehabbed home

makes in a neighborhood struggling for stability; and even how

the problems of getting clear title to land in Michigan seriously

impairs effort to revitalize neighborhoods.


My notes from that morning are filled with story ideas from

someone who knows that nothing appeals to people like me

more than news.


As obvious as this seems, you would be amazed at how many

people I meet from nonprofits who never mention news, or

discuss issues. Rather, they approach me as if I should be

ashamed of myself for not being agog over the opportunity to

buy a corporate table for $1,500 for such a good cause. I don't

want to appear ungrateful, because we support lots of these

dinners every year. But you could help us bring you so much

more than our presence at a corporate table.


You know your issues and you know where the news is. You

can help make us better at what we should be best at: providing

understanding that helps build the capacity of our community to

help others.


Keating also told me compelling stories that help our newspaper

get beyond numbers and issues to the heart and soul of what

groups like Lighthouse are about - helping real people.


These people are like Shalon Lee, who five years ago had hit

bottom when she came to Lighthouse's PATH (Pontiac Area

Transitional Housing).


Chemically dependent, homeless, with a toddler, without family

support, Lee was someone whom society so easily writes off,

but to whom Lighthouse offers a hand up if they want to take it.

The day I spoke to Lee, she proudly told me she would be

graduating in December with a master's degree in social work

from the University of Michigan. She couldn't say enough

about what PATH had meant to her: It helped her raise her son

as she went to school; it helped make it possible for her to buy a

home; it helped her get a job as a substance-abuse analyst for

Oakland County.


Stories like hers are important, to break down the stereotypes

and myths of the welfare mother, the homeless, the

drug-addicted and the disadvantaged. Lee used a phrase I

especially liked: social entrepreneur.


What a great description of what Lighthouse has been able to

do: invest in the cause of helping people in need help

themselves.


There is so much energy and creativity expended in the start-ups

and initial public offerings (IPOs) of stock in Silicon Valley and

Automation Alley here in the metro area. But wouldn't it be

wonderful if we could capture that entrepreneurial excitement in

the service of humankind? Maybe we could call such ventures

Initial People Offerings (IPOs) and sell stock in hot properties

for realizing human potential.


That would be an investment that would keep on paying off in

stories like Shalon Lee's. There are a lot more stories like hers

in our communities than you ever see in the media - and we

need your help in changing that.


Heath Meriwether is publisher of the Free Press.


END FORWARD

-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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