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Home News Organizing Updates April Fast Media Tips
April Fast Media Tips PDF Print E-mail
As you organize to fast this April, as part of a group or by yourself, think and plan ahead about how to educate people in your community about the School of the Americas, why you are fasting, and why they should get involved. One useful tool for getting the word out and working to frame the issue is the media.

Media coverage significantly magnifies the voice of those working for the closure of the SOA and a more just world. And it's up to all of us to generate media coverage of the SOA and ours efforts to close it down. Taking a little time to work with your local media can profoundly impact the number of people in your area who know about the SOA and the number of people who get involved in the work to close it down!

Seven steps for your group to consider:

1) Assess where you are now. What has been your track record of local print and broadcast coverage? Do you need to learn or brush up on media skills? Are you prepared to make a statement about why you are participating in this movement? Who are sympathetic editors and reporters? Which print and broadcast editors and reporters need some education?

2) Find a local "hook." If you are involved in a local group/organization that will be taking part in the Fast it is important to mention your involvement in that group. An example would be: A Rosa House Peace Community/ Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation's press release in 1998 identified the members as educators (in schools and community-based) who carried signs that urged "Teach Peace" and "Close this School," and they were quoted as linking violence in schools with US government violence.

3) Use independent and alternative media. IndyMedia web sites at www.indymedia.org give all of us the opportunity to post stories and photos in our own words. Go to the website nearest you and fill in the blanks! Are there alternative newspapers and/or radio programs in your area? Does your information appear in religious, labor and community newsletters? This requires some research on your part to search for those local media outlets that would be most likely to cover your story.

4) Tie in with local media. List the SOA Watch national office phone number (202-234 3440) underneath a local phone number at the top of your press releases, and cite www.soaw.org as a source for more information.

5) Varied and simultaneous submissions. All of your media work doesn't need to be a major press release or statement. Submit regular, brief announcements of organizing meetings, educational resources (speakers' bureau or videos). Send to city desk, community news and religion editors. Remember weekly bulletins of houses of worship, union publications and community newsletters.

6) Some participate, some don't. It is important to develop a comprehensive list of everyone from your community who is participating in the fast, with their names, ages, occupations and religious affiliations to attach to your press release. People who can't take part in the fast but want to be a part of the local actions can support you or your group by acting as a spokesperson, making pitch calls, and posting you local event on the internet throughout the week to increase your chances of local coverage.

7) Don't lose the story after the actions. As you end your fast, it can be helpful to send a final press release to your local media contacts describing and evaluating the action (number of participants, public reaction to the fast, announce future events). Keeping the story alive can increase your chances for a longer, more accurate story and in building a relationship with your local media.

Planning Your Media Work

The schedule for your work will depend on local plans and progress, but a suggested timeline is:

  • February: assess media work to date, where you have had coverage and where you need further outreach. Develop a comprehensive list of media outlets and be sure to note copy deadlines.

  • Late February: announce local participation in the national action (the SOAW website will feature a listing of all the local events taking place around the country); and provide information on how to contact your local SOA Watch group; speakers, videos.

  • March: Announce additional local/regional organizational endorsements and plans around the national SOA Watch Fast. Seek out a related feature story on fasting, nonviolent civil disobedience, and other public actions. Plan your local media support actions for the April Fast.

  • Late March and early April: build the momentum by releasing numbers of people participating in the fast around the country and in your community, mention key or influential people in your local group. Finalize plans for getting the news out. And do it!


    Contact us

    SOA Watch
    733 Euclid Street NW
    Washington, DC 20001

    phone: 202-234-3440
    email: info@soaw.org