‘this is my article and I’ll write it any way I want’

Bill Packard: Say what?

Wed, 08/28/2013 - 9:45am

I’m upset with the media this week, and as upset people often do, I have very little facts, but solid opinion.

We, as a society are always looking for the worse and I think the media is responsible.  One basic premise that I share with my clients is that an event is only an event.  How you react to that event determines your outcome.  If you react negatively, you will have a negative result.  If you react positively, you will have a positive result. It is possible that the media is only giving the public what they want, but this is my article and I’ll write it any way I want.

Here are a few recent headlines that demonstrate what I’m saying. The first article is about the blueberry crop.  Yield is up, the quality is great, and distributors are investing in their infrastructure; but there’s a bug.  It’s only been seen in a few places.  Mostly Southern Maine.  It has the potential to wipe out the industry.  Nothing’s happened, yet.  The industry knows about it and is dealing with it.  Why would the media take a positive story and focus on the negative?  The story about the bug is probably newsworthy, but what does it have to do with a successful year for the blueberry crop? I just don’t get it.

Another big headline was that Bath Iron Works is laying off 40 people. That’s the headline. This is BAD. Now, if you’re one of those 40, it’s not good news.  However, if you read the story, it’s a part of the business cycle and those particular crafts are not needed in the production process in the immediate future.  Probably they’ll get hired back when the ships are ready for their skilled trade.  In the last paragraph it says that so far this year they’ve hired 370 new people and called back 125 who were laid off.  Four hundred and ninety five people added, 40 laid off until needed again.  Maybe a better headline would be “Despite recent layoffs, overall employment significantly up”?

I have no idea why the media always wants to put a negative spin on stuff.  Perhaps it sells papers. 

A couple of years ago, my son was involved in a rescue in the Gulf of Aden. I’m sure you all know where that is.  Some refugees from Somalia were on a boat that broke down on its way to Yemen.  They were right in the middle of one of the busiest shipping channels in the world.  My son’s U.S. Navy ship was sent to render aid.  When it was determined that the boat could not proceed under its own power, they started towing it to Yemen, but when Yemen found out they were coming, they said “No thanks.” So. the USS Winston S. Churchill turned around and headed for Somalia.

The first day towing the boat, they realized the refugees needed water and food so they sent a small craft with supplies.  The second day, when the small craft arrived with supplies, the refugees knew what was coming.  They all went to one side of the boat and capsized it.  Approximately 85 people went into the water.  Approximately 60 were saved and 12 or 13 bodies were recovered. Another 12 or 13 were lost.  The headline read “Botched rescue leaves 13 dead.” 

Jesse was on the bridge for much of this and he was devastated.  He said, “Dad, we saved so many people and they were in bad shape even before we got to them, and all the media reported was the ones we lost and the ones that died.”

And finally, up in Washington County, a Baileyville man was accused of arson.  It turns out that he didn’t do it, but was at the scene.  His buddy confessed to setting the fires in trash cans and a dumpster. The jury found him innocent because the other guy confessed.  This guy’s lawyer said, and this was the headline, “He was just being drunk and stupid.” So if you didn’t read the article you would assume that being drunk and stupid was a good enough defense to get off in Downeast Maine.

I like writing for Holly and Lynda.  They try to put a positive spin on stuff.  Sometimes the news just sucks and you have to report it.  It is what it is.  People think this is like a job for me.  I do it for free because I like the girls and I like to write.  If some big news outlet calls with a multi-dollar figure offer, I’ll give it some thought.  As long as the girls will have me, I’ll write when I feel like it and write what I want to write about.  Ta Ta For Now.

By the way, if you’re planning a big Labor Day Weekend bash someplace with plans of being drunk and stupid and you end up in trouble, I know a lawyer in Washington County who can probably get you off.


Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com.  He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant. 



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