The 6 O’Clock News Blues
By Brie Burge
If it bleeds it leads.
That was pretty much the mantra in news media. I worked for a TV station in Miami many moons ago, producing local newscasts. TV news is an interesting beast. It’s a furious scramble to get the breaking news on first before your competition, where death and destruction take up a majority of your newscast and where there’s a buzz in the newsroom because of the “good pictures” the chopper got while over the scene of some fatal car crash.
Disturbing isn’t it, to describe someone’s agony as “a great story,” but that’s how it worked. Show producers would verbally spar over the “best stories” – presenting their case why some murder, rape or political scandal should be featured in their newscast. No wonder people are turning off local news – it primarily showcases the ugliness of society.
I don’t want you to think that news producers are heartless miscreants (although I’m sure some are), it’s just that our focus was creating enticing content and dramatic visuals for 28 minutes and 30 seconds of every single day. Ratings ruled and we needed to be number one. While I loved the adrenaline rush of breaking news or wall-to-wall coverage during hurricane season, many days I left work feeling unfulfilled, questioning if what I did really made a difference.
Coming to work for State of the Re:Union is the diametric opposite of what I used to do. A complete 180. It has renewed my belief that media can be inspiring. I know this show makes a difference. Instead of spotlighting the evil and conflict that rips our nation apart at the seams, State of the Re:Union takes us on exhilarating journeys discovering how people and communities are coming together, and weaving their stories together like a quilt. The show examines residents’ positive influences, instead of the negative. It introduces us to extraordinary people that we may never have heard of.
Like the courageous artist Amer Al-Obaidi, who fled Iraq after his son was killed in a roadside bombing and he feared for his family’s life. They ended up in, of all places, Des Moines, Iowa. But they were welcomed there with open arms and the family has flourished.
Or Operation New Hope founder, Kevin Gay. He has dedicated his life to helping rebuilding others, by teaching struggling ex-offenders how to get back on their feet.
Then there’s the never-ending persistence and dogged determination of Bayard Rustin, the virtually unknown right-hand man of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who made the March on Washington happen. He was a black, gay, pacifist Quaker who always stood up for what he believed in.
These are the stories that you’ll never see on the 6 o’clock news. That’s why I feel humbled to be part of this team and can’t wait to join the ride on this uplifting odyssey.