Do media channels need to replay constantly scenes of trauma, horror and violence? Many people will shrug their shoulders and say “that’s the way it is” but I refuse to accept that.
When you are having a conversation with someone and you want to be respectful of them, you will adjust your language so you are not deliberately offensive with your word choice or topic discussed. I choose when I am speaking to groups and audiences, my goal is to dedicate 90% of my time towards actions that have been taken or actions the audience can take, and 10% of my time to the traumatic, difficult and frustrating situations that led me to take action. I can tell the story of the terrible things that happen AND make space to highlight the solutions that are within reach of my audience and anyone who happens to be listening. The news can do this too!
The media is in a position to tell our stories as a city, are they choosing to tell the story that we want people to hear? Are they highlighting the possible solutions citizens could take or are taking? How many times will we replay a video of someone being shot by police versus how many times will we show the actions that bring families together, support kids, help people get away from harmful substances or peacefully de-escalate violent situations?
I want to challenge anyone who works in media, or anyone with a platform for listeners: stop choosing to scare people, demonize people, stoking division with your words and headlines just so you can get clicks to your website. Our community deserves better than that, these are humans, these are people who deserve opportunities to succeed – not never ending, looping reminders of the lowest moments of our city. Yes, we should hold people accountable when they do violent things, there must be a response. But to me, we can’t find a solution by emphasizing only the problem. We can’t only show the bad thing….when we do that it is a choice and a poor choice at that. Instead, let’s name the problems & flex our story telling skills by showing the determination, creativity and strength in our community as we respond to tragedy. Stop giving all the glory and time and attention to the people that are hurt/doing the hurting and start shining your light on the people that are literally saving lives by moving mountains inside of these many systems and preventing the bad things before children and families are hurt.
I often tell people who are posting negative things online that what you post is more a reflection of you than the person you are trashing. If you look at a situation and only see things to criticize, only see things that are bad – it’s not a reflection of the situation, it is a reflection of you. The way you interpret things and the way you describe the world you see is a direct reflection of what you feel and percieve. Yes we need to find places & spaces to express our fears, to vent, to let those feelings out – but I think the front page of a newspaper or at the top of a news story or on loop on the nightly newscast is not the place to do it.
The words we use, the way we tell our story is a choice – what story will you choose to tell?