"High-Tech" Ways to Spread the Word About Diversity
Although you are probably familiar with news releases, news conferences, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces (guest editorials), and how they help educate the public about diversity, there are several other tools that may be at your disposal. Your public information office probably uses many of these high-tech tools, so ask them what may be available to you the next time you have a diversity story to tell.
Video news releases (VNRs) and radio news releases (RNRs) are electronic broadcast versions of written news releases. VNRs are television news stories that you produce. They are two or three minutes long (like a television news segment) and include quotes from various people involved in the issue or story and a "reporter" who narrates the segment (either with a voice-over or on camera). As you would suspect, VNRs require videotaping and production time, but can be extremely successful in getting stories that have strong visual components on television.
RNRs are similar to VNRs, but for radio. They tend to be 60 to 90 seconds long, and they also include quotes from two or three individuals involved in the story. At the end of both VNRs and RNRs, it is customary to have the "reporter" say, "this is [his or her name] reporting from [whatever city you're in]." RNRs are distributed on conventional audiotapes, digital audiotape (DAT) or CDs.
VNRs, RNRs, satellite tours, and radio tours are generally used for breaking news stories and are intended for journalists. On the editorial side of the news is the editorial conference. This is a conference call with editorial writers and editorial board members from several newspapers. An editorial conference is just an editorial board meeting done by conference call. As with an editorial board meeting, you send out a letter requesting a meeting, but to several newspapers, rather than just one. You would also want to supply the participants in the conference with background materials on the subject. This will likely require mailing, faxing or emailing the materials far enough in advance that participants will have them in hand for the call. An editorial conference usually requires at least an hour, and you should limit the number of participants to no more than ten. (A larger number becomes confusing; it's difficult to tell who is speaking and to ensure that you address everyone's questions or comments.)
Satellite Media Tour
If you are conducting media outreach on an issue that is statewide or nationwide in scope and is extremely newsworthy, a good way to reach several outlets in a short period of time is to organize a satellite or radio media tour. Satellite media tours are a succession of television interviews conducted one after another with television stations in several locations, while the person being interviewed remains in a studio. Each interview is five to ten minutes long. A satellite tour usually takes about two hours. The interviews are beamed to the television stations via satellite, so a satellite tour requires buying time on a satellite.
A radio tour is less high-tech than a satellite tour, since you do not need a satellite. A radio tour is a succession of telephone radio interviews, conducted from a single location. Both satellite tours and radio tours require that someone spend time setting up the interviews beforehand. This usually involves sending out a notice of the tour and several hours of follow up calls. Satellite tours and radio tours are usually conducted following a news conference at which a major announcement was made or an important report was released. They give media in other cities a chance to get your comment on the story.
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"Going off to college is enough to make most students panic, but imagine the added pressure if you're deaf, blind, or are hindered by a learning disability that no one can see. 'I was scared,' said Luke Cammack, a Spokane Community College student who's visually impaired. 'I didn't think I could go to college.' Cammack, president of SCC's Disability Awareness League, was relieved to find that college wasn't such a frightening place. People were quick to help out, he said. Students took notes for him, professors set up equipment on his desk so he could see the board, counselors provided him support. 'It's like I'm a normal student,' he said. 'It's really comfortable.' To convey the message to other students with disabilities and to help them make the transition from high school to college , SCC's Center for Students with Disabilities hosted a conference÷. Organizers initially planned on only 150 people at the event, but more than 500 students, teachers, and parents came -- some from as far away as Entiat, Deer Park and even Wenatchee. It was the first time in Washington state that local businesses and area colleges and universities came together to help students with disabilities explore career and higher education options." ("SCC Reaches Out to Students with Disabilities," The Spokane Spokesman-Review, 30 March 2001)
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"A small academic program focused on working people has received its first outside funding, a $225,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. Youngstown State University's Center for Working-Class Studies will use the three-year grant to conduct conferences, support research and be host to a summer program for high school teachers÷.In a city known for working-class struggles, the center started as a lecture series in 1995. It now is part of the American Studies Program at the school of 11,787 students÷.The center encourages students in various university programs to research working-class issues÷.The center also arranges for workers at WCI Steel in nearby Warren to take some college-credit classes at their union hall. Other institutions have centers for labor studies. [John] Russo and [Sherry] Linkon said they believe their program is distinctive in that it encourages involvement of a wide array of students and is interested in researching cultural aspects of the working class÷." ("Ford Foundation Backs Youngstown State Program Focused on Workers," The Associated Press, 21 February 2001).
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"'I'm strongly committed to diversity, to access,'" said Gregory H. William, newly named president of the City College New York, "'Every place I have been, everything I have done, has been aimed at assuring access to students.'÷The problem is that Dr. Williams arrives on a campus at a time when access means very different things to different people. Three decades after the college served as a battleground over open admissions, the trustees of the City University of New York say the only way to raise academic standards is to tighten admissions criteria. Beginning in the fall, students will not be allowed to enroll at the college until they have passed CUNY's new entrance examinations. Some students and faculty members say that will limit access for members of minority groups and other disadvantaged students. ("City College Head's Priority: Wider Access for Minorities," The New York Times, 28 March 2001)
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The Institut d'Études Politiques, known as Sciences Po, "has announced an affirmative action program, the first such effort in France. 'The most interesting thing is that it lifts the psychological barrier,' said Gérard Stassinet, principal of the Lycée Auguste Blanqui÷. 'Immediately after the program was announced there was a new feeling in this school. Already the younger ones were beginning to think about the future, which just wasn't happening before.'÷The director of Sciences Po, Richard Descoings, said, 'Here at Sciences Po is where we form our elite for both business and government,' he said. 'When you have that responsibility, it is impossible not to ask yourself who is coming here. We thought about our social responsibility and we decided we had to do something.'" ("Elite French College Tackles Affirmative Action," The New York Times, 4 May 2001)
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The issue of access to higher education has been hotly debated for years in Texas and California, where the Hispanic population is sizeable. The issue has gained more attention in North Carolina as its Hispanic population grows and more qualified students are denied a chance at college÷. "'[Illegal immigrants] have no place in public universities,'" said Jack Martin, director of special projects at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a nonprofit group in Washington that seeks stronger enforcement of immigration laws. "'It makes no sense to be expending public money on educating people for employment that is denied to them by law,' Martin said÷. [On the other hand,] Since Hispanic families work, pay taxes and contribute to the state's economy, their children should be able to take advantage of low tuition rates at the public universities,'" said Andrea Bazon Manson, executive director of El Pueblo, a Hispanic advocacy group in North Carolina. "'We're not just here to work in low-skilled jobs,' Manson said. 'We have kids who are ready to go to college.'÷The state community-college system has asked the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for a ruling on who could be admitted to the state's 58 community colleges." ("Hispanic Activists Seeking College Aid for Illegal Immigrants," The Associated Press, 1 April 2001)
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