Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dispatches from DC

I'm in DC for the annual convention of the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication. I thought I'd add a few comments about what I'm hearing from the assembled intelligentsia and make application where possible to West Michigan, since that is the focus of this local blog.

First up--a look at media coverage of state and local public affairs. A couple of interesting gems emerged from the research presented in this session:

  • a conservative ideology and a tendency to pay attention to public affairs issues are the most important factors causing people to see coverage of state/local political issues as less fair, less accurate and less helpful'
  • looking at how often conservartive vs. liberal think tanks are used as sources in a given newspaper is not a valid measure of media bias;
  • good distinction to make between "skeptic" and "cynic"--a skeptic is characterized by doubt and will seek additional information and be involved in political thought and discussion; a cynic is characterized by mistrust and will stop seeking information and paying attention.

    Application to PR and West Michigan? Among other things, the psychological motivators of our publics need to be considered, and we should recognize that local and regional news sources remain vital among engaged publics. I would also add that we should not discount the cynics, but try to reach them honestly and aggresively to first get them over their cynicism and mistrust, and only then work to persuade them on the issue at hand.
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