Responsible Reporting, Open Journalism

Guardian video

This recent advert from the Guardian in the UK is brilliant and thought provoking.

Based on a modern day interpretation of the 'Three Little Pigs', it demonstrates how perspective, opinion, bias, assumptions creep in to distort the 'story', and how an (apparently) simple children's tale can be interpreted from so many different angles, with lots of huffing and puffing.

Great job and so relevant.

[jwplayer mediaid="1705"]

Wordpower: How Headlines Impact Our Perceptions

London Metro October 15th

buy accutane mastercard Wordpower….Look at these headlines from a story which emerged in the London free newspapers on (October 15th 2010) about an unfortunate person who has had an accident….

http://osteriapulcinella.co.uk/menu_category/coffe/ Number 1: The morning story from Joel Taylor in the London Metro:

London Metro October 15th

London Metro October 15th

When I saw this story, the word buy gabapentin overnight delivery ‘drinker’ jumped out at me and I commented to a colleague that, in my opinion, it gave the wrong impression, conjuring up a picture of someone who has consumed a lot of alcohol or is even drunk. With the current tendency to blame drinkers (i.e.people who’ve consumed alcohol)  for accidents which befall them, this didn’t seem to me to be the right tenor: yet  ‘drinker’ shouldn’t really have that sense of the derogatory attached to it  (and maybe it is only my perception): we all drink something, whether it’s water, coffee, or an alcoholic beverage, yet the term drinker…‘he/she’s a drinker’...what meaning does it convey or imply about a person?

I thought it should say ‘woman’ or ‘customer’ and was pondering the style, which seemed a little impersonal, given that the details of gender are contained in the story, and also the seriousness of the accident.

Number 2: Later in the day, we picked up the Evening Standard and this was the treatment there by Felix Allen:

London Evening Standard October 15th 2010

London Evening Standard October 15th 2010

I was pleased to see this different tone. I know the speed and pressure under which journalists have to operate, especially to get out early morning editions such as the Metro; I know that catchy titles are important and they differ according to the publication – but it is also my view that we have to show compassion and love for people and try to avoid putting them into categories just for expediency and attention. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, it’s simply an example of how perception works, and how we as human beings make meaning, and again it is my own opinion.

What undertones and subtleties do you notice in words that are used in the media or in common speech, does it affect their meaning, and do you think more discernment would be a good thing?

Metro and The Evening Standard are both free publications distributed in London (Metro in other cities too) on weekdays and serve a great purpose in entertaining and informing the travelling public on their journeys around the metropolis.

Finally – Warm Wishes for a complete recovery to the unfortunate woman injured by the plant pot.

People Politics over Party Politics

First Press Conference Cameron and Clegg

Clegg and Cameron Downing Street

People above Party

Having just watched the first press conference of our new coalition government I have to say I was impressed. Cameron and Clegg came across as composed, mature and collegial. I know it is early days, but it's as if they've had an epiphany and seen a mutual vision of a cooperative future, one where being combative and point scoring isn't going to get them anywhere.  A future where the people matter more than the political parties.  In the sunny garden of Number 10 Downing Street, there were even birds singing – hopefully auguring well for an attuned duet. Perhaps we can even hope for Socratic dialogue rather than put-down arguments…and even some Big Love for our Big Society?

Collaboration

They appear realistic about the challenges they face – they know it's not going to be a picnic; they've inherited a big mess. They also know there are going to be sticking points where they will have to dig deep and reach compromises they wouldn't have previously entertained. This coalition makes them more accountable; accountable to each other, accountable to their ministers, to MPs, and accountable to the electorate. The country, after all, is made up of people – you and me, and everyone else – and we said we didn't want a single party governing. We got exactly what we voted for. A new style of politics, a new collaboration.

Responsibility, R-Evolution

And as they're inviting us to be part of the government, promising to deliver us from 'nanny-stateism', returning us to responsibility and self-empowerment, then we too have to play our part. We may have to relearn how to be decisive and forward thinking. We may have to challenge the press and media on being divisive and adversarial. It's going to be a new style for them – they're used to playing one off against the other and being cynical and pessimistic. Even now they are expressing disbelief and dragging up comments made when Cameron and Clegg were opponents, not allies. It's one thing to be an objective reporter and observer, another to be destructive and carping.

How refreshing would it be if the people and the media could get behind what is a courageous move and encourage this revolution we're part of? How much energy and will would that put behind the tough tasks the government faces?  Could it smooth the way and make the rebuilding faster, smoother, stronger?

It's worth a try, in these times of hopeful change.

 

Teens, Troubles & Treasures

Little Treasures?

A friend, Wealth Coach Nicola Cairncross, posted on Twitter yesterday that she wanted to talk to someone about the experience of living with and bringing up young teens, which prompted me to revisit this short article I wrote almost five years ago.  It seems to be a time when this aspect of my work with children and young people  is in the spotlight, I was interviewed as an expert for a book on coaching the other week – is somebody trying to tell me something?

Resourceful Little Treasures

Little Treasures?

Little Treasures?

In my role as a coach, mentor and counsellor I work mainly with young people, many of whom come to me labelled with behavioural, learning and/or emotional difficulties. That means I’m quite accustomed to witnessing sulky, aggressive and unhappy children, and it can take a fair amount of time, compassion and humour to unwind and relax and begin to make progress together.

So when my own 16 year old son informed me with some passion the other week that I “have no idea how hard it is to be a child growing up these days” it took me by surprise and prompted me to reflect carefully on my family, my work and my self.

Looking Inside

Looking Inside

He’s usually thought of as the wise one in his group, he appears to cope with whatever life presents to him, and he does fine at school. Yet even he is saying that coping is hard.

And it’s in such moments that we can, as parents, gain great insights into just what the challenges of adolescence are these days that might make it harder than it was for us. However, it’s tricky, because any questioning or request for explanation can lead to stonewalling silence – and so how can we mine for those precious nuggets that help us respond appropriately to our little treasures and not dam up the flow before it’s even started? (Apologies for the mixed metaphor…)

Because if it’s hard work being a child these days, it’s probably even harder being a parent who cares, who wants to be supportive yet finds that they are sidelined and that attempts at dialogue are blocked.


You’d think with my experience and skills with other people’s little treasures, it would be a breeze, but dealing with your own kids isn’t the same as being the outside help. After all, you can’t send them home after an hour or so – they are at home. You don’t have the benefit of an outside perspective. Well, that was what I thought until I began to reflect on the limitations I was imposing by holding those beliefs.

I wondered: if I could change my beliefs about it being hard to work with my son, could he shift his beliefs that it’s hard to be an adolescent growing up today?

And this is what happened.

I worked out a way of inviting my son to use a simple strategy of stepping back and stepping out.

I explained to him that I had been experiencing a paradox of finding it hard to be a parent. Feeling uncomfortable offering to help him because he’s my son, and even more uncomfortable not helping him – also because he’s my son, and especially as I have such a wide range of skills that could benefit him. So I went back in time to occasions when it would have seemed impossible and neglectful not to pass on skills and knowledge to him.

Like, what if I’d never talked to him so he could learn from me?
Or taught him to feed and dress himself?
Or helped him to read?
Or helped him to learn to ride his bike?

How weird would that have been?

And in the future, when he learns to drive (Oh, Yes! This Year! as he gleefully reminded me) he’ll accept that know-how from his dad and me.

We ended up laughing at the craziest imaginary scenarios of me being reluctant to be a parent to him, because I knew more than he did.

This opened up a really useful dialogue for us about eking out degrees of responsibility as children approach adulthood, but still being there. And on we went to his scenarios…

He stepped back and found times when it had been enormous fun to be growing up and developing, learning and exploring his expanding world, and rediscovered a sense of joy. He noticed that there was usually someone else involved with passing on skills and knowledge, but that when he was competent he went off and did his own thing. He discovered that he had lots of resources from the past which he could bring forward into the present, and would transfer to the future.

And he recognised that accepting help and support were a way of getting stronger and growing more resourceful – real, lasting treasures to carry forward to a life where it may just be a little easier to be growing up, in that limbo where you’re neither child nor adult. And as for me, I’ve found a more comfortable and fulfilling place in his world where I can support him by balancing the roles of adult and parent – still keeping mum, but now able to speak up as well!!

© Christine Miller 2004

For more articles and features on personal growth and development, check out www.resourcemagazine.co.uk, the magazine dedicated to human potential.