What makes REAL news?
June 11th, 2006Earlier this week we hosted a press conference to announce significant grants to five key organizations as part of our Creating Community for a Lifetime initiative. You can read more about this on our website! We started this effort two years ago and asked the Area Agency on Aging to partner with us. We conducted a massive survey directed at older adults in Kent County and are moving forward using these results to fund programs and efforts that will contribute to making our community an "elder-friendly" community.
As information on our website notes:
The Creating Community for a Lifetime initiative is an ambitious, long-term, community-wide initiative launched in early 2004 by the Community Foundation and Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. The initiative seeks to help build a framework for long-term planning to address the challenges and opportunities presented by an aging community. The initiative is not a non-profit organization but an independent coalition convened to explore ideas about what constitutes an elder-friendly community and to articulate a shared vision for Kent County.
SO - one of the tangible outcomes of this effort focused in on an area that the Foundation thought was critical regarding how older adults are plugged in and engaged with the community through volunteer activities and/or employment opportunities! We are awarding $1M over the next three years and recently granted $303,000 to five organizations that developed creative programs or enhanced current programs to encourage active involvement of older adults!
Very exciting and very important!
However, the day of our press conference, we had significant competition. There were shootings overnight, an announcement of a $15,000 grant and other funding for the Fourth of July fireworks, and news coming from the Grand Rapids City Commission. It is always a gamble regarding what makes news or what grabs an assignment editor's attention. I know that - I have extensive experience with media relations for more than two decades. I am not the uninitiated.
Little fanfare was given our news. What was absolutely disappointing to me though was the nature of the comments from media sources when contacted about this press conference days in advance. Really astonishing! Beyond the usual comments that I have heard over the years from reporters and editors like - so why would THIS be news - were the responses that stated "well if it's only $300,000, that seems pretty insignificant".
THE MONEY WAS NOT THE STORY! If the public only pays attention to the big capital efforts - see my entry from June 4th- and is only going to take notice of multi-million dollars grants and gifts, then the real story is being missed. Is this community NOW really that jaundiced that only $1M + announcements are the real news?
I am not complaining about the lack of media coverage, but more about this "new news" to me that in order to grab the attention of the media, grants and gifts MUST now be in excess of $1M. Whew - that is sad!