Monthly Archives: December 2012

An Open Letter to the National News Media: Stop Exploiting Tragedies

As soon as news of the latest U.S. mass shooting trickled out… The national news media rushed to the scene. This time it was an elementary school in Connecticut. Over 20 shot dead, mostly children. Horrible. Unthinkable.

The media machine kicked into high gear and the images began to flow.

How much detail are we as the public entitled to know?  Do we need the news media there at the scene asking traumatized children and parents, “How did that make you feel?” Do we need to see the weeping face of a father who’s just learned his child was killed in the rampage?

No. No we do not.

We’ve come to expect such callousness from the 24/7 cable news media stations. We expect them to “brand” any tragedy with a banner across the tops of our TV or computer screens, whether it’s “SUPER STORM SANDY” or “MALL SHOOTING” or “ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MURDERS.” We expect them to stay at the crime scene until every last child and parent has been asked how they felt about a deranged killer executing students and teachers. We expect them to drown us in these miserable images of sorrow.

Now it appears some of the network news stations – who used to take a “just the facts” approach to reporting the half hour of evening news  – have sunk to the same level. Let’s do “special coverage” of the tragedy. Let’s put frightened children and horrified parents on screen for hours and hours. It’s about ratings, not “news you can use.” It’s certainly not about people or compassion.

To all the reporters, anchors, station managers and owners who pursue ratings, not stories, there’s a few things I need to get off my chest…. Continue reading

Think Before You Send : Why Words Still Matter

Go away!

Two words that leave no doubt about their intended meaning. The stuff of NO TRESPASSING signs and text-message breakups. Words that get to the point and hit their target. Words that, depending on the context, can hurt.

A colleague who runs a web design and marketing business recently sent an email newsletter announcing some new service offerings. Like all conscientious email marketers, she put an opt-out link at the end of her email telling recipients how to unsubscribe. One reader who wanted to opt out took it a step further, emailing her to “Go away!”

While most of her reader feedback was positive, this one message bothered her.

I know how she feels: While praise about our work is always appreciated, negative comments seem to hit harder and reverberate longer. Either the “Go away!” writer didn’t think a real human being would read his or her email…or he or she just didn’t care. But would they say that to my colleague’s face? I like to think not.

Email, texting, and social media communications let us exchange information with just a couple clicks. OMG! LOL! We write in text message shorthand. A new generation of writers doesn’t always know the difference between formal English and Internet slang. But these immediate, concise forms of communication have a downside. Continue reading