These days, there are lots of ways to tell a story. You’ve got traditional media outlets, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. But what happens when you don’t just want to tell a story, but you want to change it? That’s a big concern among today’s community organizers. And today, a coalition of grassroots communication strategists released a new report that offers insight into how some groups are making it work.
The report is called “Echoing Justice: Communications Strategies for Community Organizing in the 21st Century” and its key finding is that grassroots groups do a lot with just few resources to change the framing of stories. The report aims to lay out a path that will help more groups meaningfully create and interrupt the media messages that we hear about issues of racial justice. The coalition of groups who wrote the report include the Center for Media Justice, the Praxis Project, the Center for Story-Based Strategy, the Movement Strategy Center, and others.
In total, 56 grassroots organizations participated in a survey that found more than one third of them spend less than $10,000 annually on communications. Eighty percent of respondents said that their communications staff has a year or less of experience of training. That means that there’s lots of good work going on around issues of race, poverty, and gender equity, but comparatively few people hear about it. Compare those numbers to the seasoned right wing political operatives who spend millions to spread conservative messages. It’s a lopsided game.
The good news is that when grassroots groups make an impact, they do so in a big way. Like many big cities, Miami’s low income resident have felt the sting of a steady rise in gentrification over the past several years. In 2006, the Miami Workers Center was able to help change the perception of the city’s low-income residents by building a large and powerful community-based coalition that caught the eye of an investigative reporter at The Miami Herald. That collaboration ultimately led to the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation “House of Lies”, in which that exposed a series of ill-fated government housing deals.
Read the whole report over at the Center for Media Justice’s website.