RIIC - Helping journalists tell better Indigenous news stories.

Positive and Negative Stories

The fundamental nature of news and news reporting is that the bad news gets all the attention. Tragedies, conflicts and crises get reported; success stories rarely do. But the end result is that a non-Native audience may well come to the conclusion that Aboriginal people are a troubled, plagued and contentious people.
–    Media Awareness.ca

It’s a common tale, amongst Aboriginal people who grew up watching Western movies: when it came time to play ‘Cowboys and Indians,’ Aboriginal kids often opted for the role of cowboy. Who would want to play the Indian — that violent and inept tomahawk-wielding savage whose appearances were marked by ominous drum themes?

Credit: Union of BC Indian Chiefs

News stories from Indian Country, so often negative in tone and subject matter, aren’t unlike that evil Hollywood Indian. Who would blame Aboriginal peoples for being weary of “disaster coverage” from their communities? What impact does a relentless stream of negative news have on the self-esteem of Aboriginal youth? If non-Aboriginal audiences form their impressions about Aboriginal peoples from the news, who would be surprised if they develop unfavourable opinions?

That said, it’s hard to fight the prevailing wisdom of most newsrooms: bad news is sexy. Years of experience have taught us that news about conflict, disaster, and death grabs eyeballs and sells papers.

But, if we don’t attempt to strike a balance in our coverage — between the positive and negative — we risk alienating our Aboriginal audience, and over time, contributing to an unbalanced perspective of Aboriginal communities.

Tell a range of stories. Hard news, human interest and features. If you have a track record of presenting a variety of Aboriginal perspectives – solutions as well as problems, reconciliation as well as discord – Aboriginal people will notice and you’ll discover that almost any subject is fair game.

Include Aboriginal people in “non-Aboriginal” stories. Don’t only seek out Aboriginal people for “Aboriginal” stories (whether those stories are “good” or “bad”). Consult Aboriginal people for any sort of local, provincial, national and international story. What do Aboriginal folks think about the weather, the war in Afghanistan, or interest rates? When searching for parents for your annual back-to-school story, can you interview a Wabegijig and a Littlechild, as well as a Smith and a Singh?

Credit: Government of Alberta

Avoid “calendar journalism.”  Some newsrooms, in an attempt to portray minorities more equitably, roll out annual stories about multicultural celebrations, such as Chinese New Year or Diwali. The Aboriginal versions of this “calendar journalism” are the annual story on pow-wows, cultural gatherings, and National Aboriginal Day. These events are undoubtedly important to Aboriginal peoples, but studies of minority news audiences show they want more than fluffy stories about food and festival. They want up-to-date, accurate and factual coverage of events that reflect and impact their lives. In other words, they want journalism – so don’t pitch your journalistic principles out the window just to meet a diversity quota.


Credit: urbanrez.ca

Don’t bury the “good news.” Most newsrooms regularly shop for human-interest and “feel-good” stories, to balance out all that violence and tragedy our audience tell us they dislike. In fact, it’s not too hard to find “good news” or “success” stories involving Aboriginal peoples, but these stories often get buried — at the back end of newscasts or in the lifestyle sections of newspapers.

Don’t let “bad news” grab all the attention. Take credit for that strong human-interest story (and balance out your audience’s perception of Aboriginal peoples), by using promotional spots at your disposal – whether its an ad on your website, or targeted Tweets, or “bumpers” early on in a broadcast to promote stories that the audience might otherwise overlook.

Don’t shy away from “bad news.” In an effort to achieve balanced coverage of Aboriginal communities, journalists shouldn’t pussyfoot around controversial issues, or neglect their role as watchdogs. It’s our job to ask accountability questions. Aboriginal peoples themselves want to know if there’s corruption or mismanagement within their own organizations, or if individuals are being mistreated within their community. “Negative” media attention can be a powerful catalyst for “positive” social change.

Credit: aaronhuey.com

Credit: aaronhuey.com

But investigative and adversarial stories represent a quandary for journalists from “powerful media corporations,” according to journalism professor John Hartley, in his examination of media portrayal of Aboriginal peoples in Australia:

Good journalism requires fearless critique, impartial treatment and no allegiance to party or faction – it requires professional indifference. But this is exactly what looks like unethical journalism to people in an outsider group whose organizations and leaders are dragged over the coals on what seems like a routine basis. To them, such journalism looks like part of the control strategies of a regime in which they have no independent stake. Fearless reporting isn’t experienced as a cleansing agent in “our” body politic, but as a toxic weapon in “their” arsenal.

No easy solution to that, but if we treat First Nations stories with kid gloves, we can be sure they won’t resonate with our audiences.

Credit: Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Look beyond conflict. From war zones to squabbles over pot holes at city hall, journalists are drawn to conflict. Why? At the heart of every conflict lies a key feature of most good stories – change. Where there’s change, there’s often disagreement. Some people like the change. Some people do not. Some people want more change, others oppose it. To journalists, change (read: conflict) is news.

Aboriginal groups, as savvy as any other interest group when it comes to promoting their cause, employ blockades and marches and standoffs to attract media attention. But, news outlets respond with coverage disproportionate to the size and frequency of such confrontations, according to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples:

Media images that focus predominantly on conflict and confrontation make communication more difficult and reconciliation more elusive. Too often, media treatment of Aboriginal people and issues reinforces old and deeply imbedded notions of ‘Indians’ as alien, unknowable and ultimately a threat to civil order.

Our stories can be destructive — by promoting fear and feuds, by reinforcing notions of “us” versus “them,” and placing Aboriginal groups in binary opposition to the “rest of Canada.” Or our stories can be constructive, by helping citizens be better informed and promoting dialogue.

Credit: Don Staniford

Journalist and educator Ross Howard suggests key questions, in his work on conflict-sensitive journalism, that you should ask yourself the next time you’re reporting on a conflict involving an Aboriginal group:

  • Is your reporting framing the conflict as consisting of only two opposing sides?
  • Do you only quote leaders who make familiar demands? Are you interviewing “ordinary” community members, who are being impacted by the conflict? Are you using first-hand sources?
  • Are you asking questions that may reveal common ground? Are you reporting on the shared interests or goals of groups involved?

These are the questions of a reporter aiming to go beyond conflict, to solutions.

Orioles pitching situation beginning to get complicated

By Dan Connolly The Baltimore Sun contact the reporter

Baseball Chicago White Sox With a suspension looming and 14 games in 13 days, the Orioles are scrambling for arms. The team recalled three relievers from Triple A Norfolk in the past week. Chaz Roe sparkles in his Orioles debut.

A looming suspension for left handed reliever Brian Matusz adds another question mark to an Orioles’ pitching staff that is seemingly a daily work in progress.

The Orioles are bracing for news this week that Matusz will be suspended following his ejection cheap jerseys Saturday for having a “foreign substance” on his non pitching arm. No suspension has been handed down yet Milwaukee’s Will Smith received eight games Friday for a similar infraction and Matusz will almost certainly appeal. But when the process is finalized, the Orioles will be forced to play one man down for a period of time.

Orioles’ Brian Matusz ejected after foreign substance detected by Marlins Christy Cabrera Chirinos

For the second time in cheap nhl jerseys china a week, a Major League pitcher has been ejected from a game for having a foreign substance on his arm and this time, it came in a game featuring the Marlins.

For the second time in a week, a Major League pitcher has been ejected from a game for having a foreign substance on his arm and this time, it came in a game featuring the Marlins. ( Christy Cabrera Chirinos )

And that’s not good news considering the Orioles must play 14 games in their next 13 days, including Thursday’s make up doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox.

“I really don’t know what’s going to go down where Brian’s concerned,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “The doubleheader coming up, it’s going to get pretty complicated now with all that going on. It cheap jerseys puts a lot of guys back in the mix.”

The Orioles have already recalled three relievers in the past week from Triple A Norfolk Tyler Wilson, who was sent down again Saturday, Oliver Drake and Chaz Roe.

Baltimore Orioles Season Preview 2015Get to know the 2015 OriolesSee all related8 It’s expected that rookie Mike Wright will start one of the doubleheader games Thursday, but the other likely will be pitched by someone not currently on the 25 man roster. McFarland, who was demoted Sunday to make room for Roe.

Another possibility is recalling right hander Bud Norris (bronchitis) from his injury rehab assignment and giving him a start Thursday. He is slated to pitch for Double A Bowie on Wednesday after giving up nine runs in a Triple A start Friday, but Showalter admitted those plans may have changed with the instability of the pitching staff right now.

Showalter said he even considered bringing Kevin Gausman (right shoulder) off the disabled list, but the wholesale jerseys organization still wants him to get a few starts in Triple A this year after pitching out of the Orioles’ bullpen before his injury.

“It brings anybody into play, anybody who is sent down,” Showalter said. “I thought for a second about Gausman. I’m not going to do that.

“It’s always exciting to get that call,” said Roe, who has pitched in 24 combined games with the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees in his career. “I’m just happy to be here and whatever I have to do to help the team.”

The 28 year old right hander entered with two on and no outs and retired all six of the batters he faced for two perfect innings.

“We really liked him in the spring. He was a guy we took on every trip,” Showalter said of Roe, who was 3 1 with a 2.19 ERA in 17 games at Triple A Norfolk. “He was another good addition to our depth. I’m happy for him. It’s been a long road back for him, too.”

McFarland demoted; Wesley Wright to 60 day DL

After getting tagged with the loss in the 13th inning Saturday night, McFarland was sent to Triple A Norfolk on Sunday morning. It’s possible McFarland will be called up to pitch in Thursday’s doubleheader, but regardless he’ll be considered a starter when he’s with the Tides.

“I like getting Mac starting again,” Showalter said of McFarland, who had a 3.60 ERA in five games with the Orioles. “I’d rather keep the ball in his hand if he’s going to do something in that doubleheader.”

Roe wasn’t on the 40 man roster, so the club moved lefty reliever Wesley Wright (left trapezius strain) from the 15 day disabled list to the 60 day DL. He has been pitching in extended spring training, but Showalter said he thought Wright still needed some time to return to form before joining the Orioles. He is now eligible to come off the DL on June 10.

3B Manny Machado has a seven game hitting streak. According to baseball historian David Vincent, Matusz’s ejection was the first in modern franchise history for having a foreign substance/doctoring a baseball. The St. Louis Browns, the Orioles’ predecessor, had three baseball doctoring ejections: Nelson Potter in 1944 and “Dauntless” Dave Danforth in 1922 and 1923. (Pa.) University, where Orioles outfielder David Lough played college baseball, participated in the school’s first NCAA Division II College World Series game on Sunday.Articles Connexes: