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Editorial Reflection
We need media that enhance and enrich our culture

Thanks to The Spokesman-Review for its role in the Christmas Fund.  Thanks to KXLY for its Coats for Kids Drive and Extreme Makeover of homes and remodeling Mid-City Concerns.  Thanks to KREM for its Tom’s Turkey Drive, Rachel’s Challenge and the Tree of Sharing.  Thanks to KHQ for its Success by Six reading program.  Thanks to KSPS and KPBX for ongoing thoughtful programming to stimulate our minds and spirits.

A recent online photo and story of a New York police officer buying shoes for a barefoot homeless man in November also exemplifies how everyone can be part of newsgathering to change mindsets.

Media can do much to uplift people, calling our attention to the struggles, injustices and disasters people face, providing us the information we need to respond, and sharing stories of people who do respond.  Media attention can help raise funds, recruit volunteers and spread ideas of ways people are engaged in building caring community. 

We do have our better sides.  While they often seem overshadowed by pressures of self interest so often reported, that does not undo the many efforts on behalf of the community’s and world’s wellbeing. 

What if every day—to present a realistic balance the horrible things that do happen—media shared stories that feed hope, generosity, possibility, opportunities and caring?  I don’t mean just feel-good stuff, but solid stories that show how people and groups are role models creating a gentler, cooperative, caring culture.

A new Aryan group forms in North Idaho.  Yes, we need to know about it, but do we dwell on it, re-creating the bad reputation of the Inland Northwest.  Yes, the unusual is news, but so is information on the many efforts for human rights.  Coverage of a white supremacist can be balanced with coverage of the region’s many expressions celebrating diversity and advocating for human rights.

In our age of social networks, digital communication and technological innovations, we need tools to understand that reality is more than our bad sides.  We need to know how we can foster reconciliation and change people’s minds about conflicts.

As social media proliferate, media conglomerates still consolidate and limit what voices we hear, images we see, art we appreciate, information we access, beliefs we hold and items we consume.

By limiting access to stories of positive efforts, conglomerates confine us to a consumer culture.  They feed the frenzy of people lining up outside and rushing into stores for Black Friday bargains.  Then, we take the temperature of our economic revival as if it’s based on sales that day.

A holy day is overshadowed.  The generosity, mystery, hope and caring of the season are sidetracked by Xmas. 

Without communication—in the beginning was the Word—we do not have life.  In today’s noisy, cluttered lives, people may seem too busy to open their lives to each other, but that’s not the case.

Communication can create exlusion and inclusion, misunderstanding and understanding.  People need stories that build respect across cultural, economic, political and religious stereotypes and simplistic talking points that defy common sense.

Given today’s hunger, homelessness and underemployment crises, we need stories that move us beyond the worn-out messages that serve those already in power. 

What can media do to help open our eyes? We hope the example we offer with The Fig Tree can be a model to inspire other media to open our eyes, minds and hearts.

Mary Stamp - Editor

Copyright © December 2012 - The Fig Tree,