Media coverage is one of the most important parts of any advocacy campaign. A media campaign will carry your message to a much larger number of people than can be reached independently. The media is a forum to educate the public and policymakers on who the Sikh community is and the hate crimes being committed upon it. Part of an effective media strategy is to be able to convince other people to care about what is happening to the Sikh community. The media has a large role in setting the stage for what issues will be addressed and the seriousness that these issues will be given. It is crucial that we use the media to bring attention to these issues that are threatening the livelihood of Sikh-Americans across the United States.
News coverage of our cause is important because it builds the legitimacy of
our group giving us credibility when we lobby elected officials to speak out
against hate crimes and intolerance. Similarly, even an article or television
spot with a local angle – Sikh college students lining up to give blood –
focuses attention on the Sikh community. Public attention translates into
increased sympathy for our community and the Arab-American community, which
translates into lives saved.
In this package, we have included:
· Press Release: Discussion and sample. A press release is a one to two page description of an event, program, or activity. It can stand-alone or be enclosed with additional materials and re-sources.
· Media Events: Reporters of all stripes – newspaper, radio, and television – are constantly looking for stories. An event like a public demonstration, speaker, peace rally/ service, is likely to draw media attention to the cause.
· Tips for working with the media
The opinion sections of local and national newspapers are especially powerful.
The issues that dominate the editorial pages are often the same issues that
Congress decides to address. Writing letters to the editor for the local and
national newspapers, meeting with the local editorial board to produce
editorials and newspa-per columns about the escalating crimes against the
Sikh-American and Arab-American communities, and writing op-ed pieces are
extremely effective advocacy tools for everyone, especially youth, to use. You
can influence the opinions expressed in the media in a variety of ways, each
of which is covered here:
· Editorials: an editorial in a newspaper is written by the newspaper staff. Unlike a column or a letter, which is written by a specific person, an editorial reflects the opinion of the newspaper itself. You can influence what the newspaper's editorials say by meeting with editorial boards and supplying them with information about a certain topic.
· Op-Ed pieces: "Op-Ed" means opposite the editorial page, because it often appears on the same spread as the newspaper's staff editorials. Newspapers accept submissions from citizens for op-ed pieces, then choose a few to run alongside staff editorials and letters to the editor. Often an elected official sympathetic to a cause will co-author an op-ed piece with an activist in the community, hoping to focus more attention on the issue.
· Letters to the editor: the letters section of a newspaper is taken to reflect the voices of people in the community. Elected officials pay special attention to what is printed here because constituents write letters about the issues they care most about.
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