Media Reporting of Community Indicators Reports

[ Community Indicators reports could be a great starting point for PEG access centers looking to develop meaningful programming, as well as lifelong collaborating partners.  ~ rm ]

Media Reporting of Community Indicators Reports
by Ben Warner
Community Indicators
10/05/07

Two recent editorials in two very different cities commenting on community indicators reports got me thinking this week. When we prepare an indicators report for the community, how well do we convey the message of the report? How does the local media understand the report, and what do they say?

The Calgary Herald called the recent Vital Signs report “A brutal report card on Calgary’s failing quality of life” that “could be the watershed moment that defines our future.” The Boulder County Business Report said the recent Healthy Community report “left me a bit bewildered” and added, “I’m not one for mincing words when I think something’s not up to par. I don’t think our community indicators should either.”

Those are a couple of extremes in reporting on indicators — “brutal” or “minced.” How do we get our message across in a way that’s strong enough for people to take notice, but in a way that still inspires action and not defeat? How do we make sure the message doesn’t come across as too hot or too cold?

A couple of years ago, our local newspaper took our Quality of Life Progress Report and used an editorial cartoon to describe how they saw the value of the report.

Here’s Jacksonville, Florida’s skyline:


And the editorial cartoon:

This is how the newspaper described the report: “For most citizens, Jacksonville is a wonderful place to live. To keep it that way, the community needs to deal with an underclass that is poorly educated and has little hope in the future. There is no better summary of challenges than the new Quality of Life Progress Report from Jacksonville Community Council Inc. JCCI’s annual report has become a valuable tool to use to chart progress in Jacksonville and prioritize challenges.”

And again: “In some ways, the best news for Jacksonville is the [Quality of Life Progress] Report itself. The very premise of the report, and of JCCI, is the belief in Jacksonville as a community where the problems of some are the responsibility of everyone.”

Sometimes, as Baby Bear might say, they get it just right. That’s the message of our report, and they nailed it.

Different reports have different messages, and so “just right” may mean something different in your community.   —>   http://communityindicators.blogspot.com/2007/10/media-reporting-of-community-indicators.html

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