In Canada, I watched the news daily. If I wanted to know what was going on in the world, I’d turn on CBC and watch. It never occurred to me that news could be one-sided, or sensationalized, it always seemed to be told from a position of neutrality.
I moved to Columbus, Ohio in 1999 and turned on the news to become familiarized with the area. I was surprised; the local news reminded me more of watching soap operas. Announcers kept viewers hanging on as long as possible with breadcrumb casting spread across multiple commercials, followed by short one-sided, sensationalized nonsense that left me frustrated and dissatisfied. The world news wasn’t any better. All I heard was the American opinion; I wanted to hear the other side. How was I to be an informed world citizen if reporters only shared what they themselves found unsettling?
I stopped watching news.
I was disgusted with it and found about as much value as I do in the glut of mindless reality shows being headlined. Perhaps I’m in the minority, perhaps I was just spoiled by the news I grew up with. For the past TEN years, I’ve barely watched television at all.
After moving to Michigan, I connected with Stephen Clark on twitter. I soon learned we lived in the same area, we tweet-talked about our teenagers, marching band and school events. We connected on Facebook. Still I hesitated to turn on the news even though I knew he was an anchor with the local station’s, WXYZ Action News.
Tweeting with Stephen Clark of WXYZ Action News
During a rare moment of channel flipping my curiosity got the better of me. I saw him at his news desk and stopped to watch him on channel 7. I tweeted something out to him – he answered. I looked at the tweet appearing on my laptop and back at the tv screen. There was no computer showing on the anchor desk and he was too busy delivering the news to be chatting with me. I assumed he had someone tweeting on his behalf.
Silver Fish Hand Catch?
Days later, I noticed a twitter uproar. People tweeting and retweeting about a silver fish hand catch and Stephen Clark. After some nosing around I found a video of his newscast which meant nothing until I found this Old Spice video. Stephen tied it all together for me when he explained the event on his blog.
Social and Traditional Media Merged
I later learned Stephen had been authoring his own tweets while delivering the Detroit news, his laptop was off to the side out of view. It’s since been moved to a place of prestige on the news desk. His “silver fish hand catch” caught more attention than just mine and has blossomed into the #backchannel, a medium for bringing social media and traditional media together.
Local news became intriguing again as Stephen was reporting on items that were interesting to me. Technology, people, positive stories from Detroit. I find myself turning the tv on more frequently in the day as well, and often share my lunch with WXYZ news.
Hello my name is Pat and I watch WXYZ Action News…
That amazes me. Stephen Clark completely changed my negative opinion of the news to a positive one by interacting directly with his viewers. I see many more WXYZ Action News staff have followed Stephen’s lead and are interacting with viewers on twitter. I even got to meet some of them at the WXYZ tweetup held earlier this month.
Stephen has received many accolades for his work from within the social media community. He deserves to be recognized for his efforts in the TRADITIONAL media community as well. I wonder if WXYZ management fully understands the impact and positive influence Stephen Clark has had on viewers.
“Little drops of water make the mighty ocean.”
I’m writing a letter to WXYZ management to let them know I’m watching the news again BECAUSE of Stephen Clark. If he has positively influenced your impression of the news, I invite you to do the same. One letter may have some significance but if all of our #backchannel ‘ers wrote the station management and blogged about the sense of community Stephen Clark has created, each personal story will help management “understand” how Stephen Clark has changed traditional news delivery for us.
Send your letters, post them online, leave a link here or tweet it with the #backchannel tag…. I know there are more people out there who have found positivity in the news because of Stephen Clark!
Send your letters to:
ATTN: Ed Fernandez, VP, General Manager
20777 West 10 Mile Road
Southfield, MI 48037