In this economic recession and post September 11 era that is marked by budget shortfalls and shifting priorities, a critical question nonprofits are grappling with is "How are resources going to be allocated?"
The role of the media in answering this question must not be ignored. Media educates and influences public opinion, which then influences legislation and allocation of resources.
People are asking how they can get their issues, concerns and policy positions covered in the media. In an age where most news stories come from government sources and corporate press releases, it is extremely important that nonprofits understand how reporting works and act to expand their capacity to inform and influence the media process. To fail to do so is to confine the nonprofit sector to the margins of social policymaking, and already isolated communities to silence.
Charlotte Ryan, co-director of the Boston College Media Research Action Project, details the current environment and outlines the starting points and steps nonprofits can take to strengthen their public voice in "Why Take Media Seriously?"
Following the OJ Simpson trial, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) undertook a media project to improve media coverage of domestic violence. The result is an excellent model that can be replicated for any social justice issue. Karen Jeffreys, director of public relations at RICADV, writes of the valuable lessons learned that can be applied to working with the media on other social justice issues.