H1N1. A combination of two letters and two numbers very few people knew seven or eight months ago, but now have taken on an ominous meaning for many. As we enter the 2009-2010 flu season, most in the St. Louis region—and across the country—are wondering what will happen and how they and their family can best prepare for “Living With the Flu.”
To help our community during this time, KETC is using our capabilities on-air, online and in the community as the region’s trusted public media organization to connect residents to H1N1 prevention and immunization resources through a network of trusted community agencies. Watch our broadcast for tips on how you can prevent the flu and what to do it you or someone in your family is infected. We’ll be posting information and links to resources here, and we want to hear from you if you know of resources we don’t have here.
We are all going to be living with the flu this year, but by staying informed and being prepared, we call all try and prevent the spread.
Once again the news is filled with panic headlines. It's 1918 all over again - a National Emergency - Huge line ups for vaccine - Not enough vaccine - Kids dying and so on. Just like good old Channel 7 New in Buffalo with a fire every night! Come back Irv Weinstein.
This approach to news just confuses and frightens - after all when we hear this kind of thing, we are left helpless. There is nothing that we can do.
At KETC, we decided to behave differently when the mortgage crisis struck. We are not even a "News" station. We decided to see what we could do to HELP. One of the challenges was that we didn't know what to do either.
So we did something quite novel, we went out into the community and found out about the people who did know what to do - we helped bring them together and we gave them a voice and we connected them to a lot more people than they could have been connected to on their own. It worked. worked so well that now over 70 stations are doing this in the 32 worst hit cities in America.
So this clip above is the next step. The Flu is like the economy. A TV station can shout "fire" in a crowded room or it can find help. This time we have a bit more experience - we already have relationships with a lot of community resources - we have learned how to give the community a voice and to connect people who don't even watch our channel to the help that they need.
Public TV in particular has been criticized for not really serving their local public with news. Here is a snip from a new report:
The study, posted on the Columbia Journalism Review website, can be found online through this link:
After surveying the field for news chops and innovative thinking, Downie and Schudson conclude that too much of the money spent on pubcasting is directed to maintaining local television and radio stations and not enough to independent news reporting. “Overall . . ., local news coverage remains underfunded, understaffed and a low priority at most public radio and television stations, whose leaders have been unable to make or uninterested in making the case for investment in local news to donors and Congress,” they write.
But I think that the term "News" is too narrowly defined. Surely what people need locally is not more Irv Weinstein headlines but more context and connection?
KETC is doing this without blowing up the station. What has happened is that the work of the station is evolving into this connector role.
The really hard work was in "seeing" this role. Once we got it - the rest has happened naturally.
Disclosure - I am an adviser to KETC