News for a Change: An Advocate′s Guide to Working with the Media

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9780761919247: News for a Change: An Advocate′s Guide to Working with the Media
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News for a Change provides step-by-step instructions for working with the media to promote social change. The authors are seasoned activists in the use of media advocacy -- the strategic use of news media, advertising and community organizing to change public policy. In this media-driven age, strategic media approaches are vital to achieving visibility, gathering support, and challenging those in positions of power.

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About the Author:

Lawrence Wallack, DrPH, is Professor of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of the School of Community Health, College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University, and was the founding director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group. Dr. Wallack is one of the primary architects of media advocacy -- an innovative approach to working with mass media to advance public health. He has published extensively and lectures frequently on the news media and public health policy issues. He is the principal author of Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention (Sage Publications, 1993). He is also co-editor (with Charles Atkin) of Mass Media and Public Health: Complexities and Conflicts (Sage, 1990). Dr. Wallack has appeared on Nightline, Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, the Today Show, CNN, Oprah, and numerous other programs to comment on policy issues regarding public health problems.

Katie Woodruff, MPH, is Program Director at the Berkeley Media Studies Group, an organization conducting research and training in the use of media to promote healthy public policies. Her research and training activities are directed toward groups interested in social change. Ms. Woodruff provides strategic consultation and media advocacy training to community groups working on a range of public health and public interest issues, including violence prevention, alcohol control, tobacco control, injury control, childrens health, child care, and affirmative action. She also conducts research on news content and has published case studies and articles on applying media advocacy to public health and social justice issues.

Lori Dorfman, DrPH, is Director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group. Her current research examines how local television news and newspapers portray youth and violence. She edited Reporting on Violence, a handbook for journalists illustrating how to include a public health perspective in news coverage of violence. Dr. Dorfman has published articles on public health and mass communication issues and is a co-author of Public Health and Media Advocacy: Power for Prevention (Sage Publications, 1993). Dr. Dorfman has served as a consultant for government agencies and community programs across the U.S. and Canada working on a variety of issues including violence prevention, alcohol control, tobacco control, nutrition and exercise, injury control, child care, and childhood lead poisoning.

Iris Diaz is the Training Coordinator for the Berkeley Media Studies Group, where she designs and conducts media advocacy training for community groups and young people across the country. Ms. Diaz has presented to national conferences and has extensive experience consulting with communities to understand and effectively use the power of the news media to promote policies that advance social and public health goals. Prior to working with the Berkeley Media Studies Group, Ms. Diaz worked as an AIDS Counselor for the Shanti Project in San Francisco. She also has 10 years of television experience as Associate Producer and Producer of segments for children's programming, documentaries, specials and health-care related videos at KRON-TV, KPIX-TV and Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From the Introduction:

There is a wonderful bumper sticker that says, "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention." These days, many different issues enrage people: violence, lack of affordable housing, campaign finance abuses, racism, handguns, alcohol, HIV/AIDS, even cutbacks in operating hours of local libraries. Some people channel their anger into constructive action; others just get depressed or alienated, feeling their voices cannot be heard.

The energy generated by outrage or concern _can_ be transformed into action for change. This book can help you do exactly that by increasing your knowledge and skills to better work through the news media to become a building block for hope and, ultimately, social change.

This is a handbook for developing a strategy that combines key elements of social change -- community organizing, research, policy development, advocacy, and politics -- with news media. The purpose of the strategy is to amplify your concern into a collective voice that helps to shape the media agenda and ultimately the policy agenda. The process is guided by a blend of advocacy and strategic thinking that comes before any media work.

Outrage alone will only take you so far; then you need a plan for moving ahead and an assortment of tools to put the plan into action. So this book offers ideas on developing a practical solution to the problems you want to confront and an overall strategy for making it happen. If you know your problem, have a practical, concrete policy approach to advance, and have a good sense of the social, political, and economic context of your issue, advancing your case through the news media can dramatically increase your effectiveness.

Many organizations simply feel that they do not have the time to incorporate media into their overall social change strategy. If necessary, they might react to news stories or, sometimes, they might call a journalist with a story idea. But for the most part, they just have too many other important things to do to put in the time necessary to use media as an advocacy tool.

However, we feel strongly that every organization with a goal of social change should have a strategy for effectively putting the power of the news media to work. The media can provide visibility, legitimacy, and credibility to an issue and to the organization advocating for change. By selecting some events and not others for news coverage, the media send a signal to the public about what is important and worth thinking about. The media also provide advocates with an avenue to reach those people whose power can help move the issue on the policy agenda. Put simply, the news media communicate to opinion leaders and influential people, as well as the general public, what issues they should think about, how they should think about them, and who has worthwhile things to say about the issues.

We've designed this book around 10 key rules that should shape your media efforts. Throughout each chapter, we provide "Advocacy in Action" examples - stories of groups who have used media successfully to advance their policy goals, as well as checklists, pointers, and exercises to help you apply the lessons of media advocacy to your work. Worksheets and additional resources are collected in appendices at the end of the book.

No book can cover everything there is to know about working with the media. But we hope this book will help you in three key areas.

First, this book will help you "pay attention" to the news media. We are often amazed by how many groups with a social change agenda do not have the time, interest, or desire to understand the importance of the media as a strategic resource. In our society, the media not only tell people what issues to think about, but also shape how people think about those issues. Those who oppose your goals will not ignore the power of the news media, you can be sure of that -- and you can not afford to ignore it, either.

Second, this book will help you integrate a media strategy into an overall strategy. The news media and paid advertising should support organizing and policy development activities, not replace them. While this book is about media, it really has more to do with strategic thinking -- shaping your argument and advancing it in ways that will increase the likelihood of achieving social change.

Third, this book will help you become more comfortable participating in the public debate through the news media. You will gain the confidence and skills to call journalists, pitch stories, answer hard questions, write letters to the editor and op-ed pieces, design news events, and make interviews work for you. This book will increase your sophistication in working with the news media and make you and your group more effective.

What this book does not do is provide any guarantees that you will achieve your desired policy outcome. No book could make such a promise. What we do promise, however, is that you will be better able to participate in the public debate about your issue and be more effective in getting your story told. We are confident about this because we work with and have observed so many others who provide continuing proof that savvy media approaches can further the goal of social change. We will tell some of their stories in these pages, and show you exactly how to ask the tough questions and do the preparation to make media work for you too.

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