Recently I was walking my dog and ran into a neighbor. Our conversation turned to the news, and, after recounting the latest horrors in the BP oil spill situation, the neighbor said, “And there’s nothing you can do about it!” He proceeded to list other troubles in the news — banking, the economy, Greece and the Euro — and after each problem he repeated his refrain, “And there’s nothing you can do about it!”
While I know that many of you are quite resourceful and might come up with at least something to do — e.g. write your senator, volunteer, etc. — it’s not because the media gave you any ideas about how to respond. Think about it — what do you do when you have a problem? If you are committed to addressing it, then you would likely look at it from all angles and make a concerted effort to understand what went wrong, determine what you can do to resolve the problem, and take actions to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Yes, it takes time, thought, research, and far more effort than just complaining about the situation. Maybe the news media should serve this purpose for the consumers of its stories. There are lots of experts out there that journalists can tap who have worked for years on any given issue and are passionate about contributing what they know that can make a difference.
Which would you prefer: a news story that shows you in graphic details and tells you all about a problem, then leaves you stunned and frustrated, depressed or resigned about what you can do about it? Or do you want a media that makes a difference — one that covers the news, but also offers new insights and understanding about how you can use the news to make a difference in your life and the lives of others? Can journalists collaborate not just with the subjects of the stories but also with sources who are committed to solving specific problems that confront us? What would it take to give viewers a full view of who, what, when, where, why — and what to do about it?
It’s time to reboot the media, and the news is a great place to start. What do you think?