15 Aug What the Hell Happened?
The Charlottesville, Virginia riots were covered by these top media outlets and I sit here still wondering:
“What the hell happened?”
CNN: “A least 3 dead in Charlottesville, says Virginia governor. His message to white supremacists: ‘Go home’”
“James Alex Fields Jr., 20, held on suspicion of 2nd-degree murder in car crash in Charlottesville, VA, police say”
- “‘THE STORY’: “Gingrich: Anti-Trump crowd won’t be satisfied”
– “Would Trump’s enemies still hate him?’: Watters blasts left’s Charlottesville hypocrisy”
“Charlottesville: Who was victim Heather Heyer?”
“Trump condemns ‘evil racism’ in Charlottesville”
“White nationalists and counterprotesters blamed each other and the police for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.”
What is the Story?
The BBC took the time and effort to profile a victim, Heather Heyer, as if Heather was the entire real story somehow. Yes, this is compassionate and at the core of the matter, the loss of life is our collective concern. But are the lives lost the whole story here? Not nearly, but in this article, way in the middle of this article, away from everything else in the article (think “Alice’s Restaurant”) I believe the BBC buried the lead – see Paragraph 7: “…..Her manager, Alfred Wilson, described her as a “a very strong, very opinionated young woman” who was opposed to President Donald Trump and Jason Kessler, the blogger who organised Saturday’s Unite the Right rally.”
Want to know more about this dude? You have to search the internet. Don’t look for it in the evening news.
The NY Times had some in-depth reporting about James Alex Fields Jr, the driver of the car used in the homicide, but the “truth” contained therein was mostly what you usually read about such perpetrators: people interviewed say he was “quiet and kept to himself,” “misguided,” and “disillusioned.” We learn in some NY Times articles that Fields spent time in the military, but the reporter couldn’t find out any details about that. Stop, what?
I swear sometimes it seems that reporters today can only report what they see with their very eyes, but if the issue involves some research (God forbid), well, it’s easier to just print, as in this NY Times article: “It was not immediately clear why he [Fields] left the military.”
So if it is not “immediately clear,” GO FIND OUT, DAMMIT! Too much to ask? Maybe.
Where are the investigative journalism pieces on this incident? One of my favorite journalists, James Rosen, tweeted “Never a surprise, unfortunately, that violence would ensue after a hateful group masses in a post-enlightenment city.”
James, this is a tease –we want to know MORE! There is most likely a more horrendous story here than we are being told and for once, I’d like to read it.
Instead, on the evening news and talk shows, the talk is all about TRUMP. “What did Trump say?” “What didn’t Trump say?” “How soon did Trump say it?” “Why didn’t Trump say it sooner?” “Who did Trump offend?” OMG already!
Who cares about Trump? Tell me, please, WHAT IS THE STORY?
So far we might know the “who,” “what,” “when” and “where,” (and I am not really sure if we have the entire scoop on those details) but we certainly have not read the definitive story on the “how” and “why.” Maybe the writers are waiting for a book or movie deal. In the book All The President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the catch phrase uttered by “Deep Throat” was “follow the money,” and I think maybe that could be the reason for modern day investigative journalist writer’s block. Just sayin’.
What is your Story?
As for the whole story about the Charlottesville incident, If I find it, I will read it, I will tell you. Until then, let’s look at the lesson for marketing.
Think: What is your story? Have you told the truth about your business, your message, your mission? What did you communicate to the market, your customers, clients and your constituents today? How true is it? How complete is it? How deep did you go?
Please don’t take what you see in journalism today as an example of good story writing.
Master the technology. Conquer your market.