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Archive for March 27th, 2008

Last night I did something I haven’t done in awhile; I watched the CBS Evening News. From as early of an age as I can remember, I’ve always liked the news, regardless of whether it was print or broadcast media. Basically, I’m a news junkie.

The news stories presented last night included timely topics. One talked about a potential troop surge in Afghanistan. Another was about a hay shortage in horse country due to the drought. The story went on to tell how hay prices have nearly doubled and how some horse owners were abandoning their horses because they can no longer afford to feed them.

Another story talked about the rise in diesel fuel prices and how that is effecting the prices of consumer goods. There was also a story on falling home prices, foreclosures and falling stock prices as well as a story about eroding coastlines along eastern England. I watched each one as they progressed from bad to worse.

A sense of doom had set in by the time the broadcast ended. As I thought about the millions of people who had watched this same broadcast, I realized that in less than thirty minutes, broadcast news had just hurled millions of Americans into further feelings of fear and despair. I thought about how our collective mindset was being pulled down and how force-fed depression would impact the lives of the people around me. After all, a bad attitude is contagious.

While perhaps important to know, the story about the fuel prices could have been a segue to the benefits of planting a vegetable garden. The hay shortage caused by the drought could have been followed by a story about water conservation, but traditional media appears to have no interest in offering solutions.

The more I thought about this the more I realized that by spending my time with people who remain optimistic and who focus on solutions rather than fear and despair, I myself have few misgivings about the world in which I live. I don’t live with my head in the sand by any means. I do however, prefer to spend my days with feelings of success rather than defeat.

Under such circumstances, the need for two-way or conversational media becomes more vital than ever. The Columbus Social Media Cafe is aiming to do just that. By brining together like minded folks who are involved in their communities and who have a propensity for uncovering solutions, residents of Central Ohio now have the chance to interact with media. This project is not the only two-way media available in Central Ohio, but it is the first to be sponsored, in part, by a media source that uses television and radio. Public radio and television have always been the “alternative source” and this project continues that momentum.

We’re a rich and vibrant community in the most prosperous part of Ohio. Here, we grow ideas, experiment with the arts, enjoy our parks and expand our minds. These are the very things that propel us into a better world and creating a more robust dialogue helps all of us find the solutions that are important in an ever-changing world.

More has been posted about WOSU’s social media project at the Columbus Social Media Cafe site, which includes information for the next event, as well as a rough draft of the elements that build this new local venue for two-way and conversational media. Please join us.

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