Posted on | December 5, 2012 | 1 Comment
My husband just completed a pretty intensive week of leadership training at work which included sessions on how to effectively talk to the media. The trainer emphasized storytelling: using six magic words that immediately wake listeners up.
“Let me tell you a story.”
Everyone loves a story. But for many people, the idea of handing control over that story over to another person — like a reporter — is both frightening and intimidating. Sometimes, it can have real consequences like job loss or legal issues.
That’s especially true in the field of juvenile justice, where the confidentiality owed to minors can complicate any attempt to gather or tell stories. This week, John Fleming, my editor at the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Jenna Gibson, a charming producer at CBS This Morning, and I led a workshop at a national conference attended by judges, advocates and other juvenile justice professionals to explain how telling stories to journalists can help them raise public awareness of the conditions faced by children in the justice system, and ultimately affect change.
I also blogged about why talking to reporters is a good idea, drawing upon a discussion I attended in Florida to illustrate the difficulties faced by most journalists in accessing correctional facilities. My post appeared on a juvenile justice blog, Reclaiming Futures, on the same day as our workshop.
The good news is that the theme of storytelling ran through the entire two days of the juvenile justice conference. The organizers wanted attendees to go out there and communicate their experiences to the wider world. As a journalist, I hope they take the advice.
Stories are the way people can put a face on bald facts. Stories are the way personal experiences can turn into public policy. Stories can be magic.
And in a country that locks up more kids in prison than any other developed nation in the world, we need more magic.