2023 PRSA Fact and Fiction: Trends in Local Media Takeaways
Yesterday afternoon, Justin Liggin and I attended a PRSA virtual event, “Fact and Fiction: Trends in Local Media.” The event included a Q&A session with Christopher Conover, news director at Arizona Public Media, Leeza Glazier Starks, news director at KGUN-9, and Alma Gallardo, director and editor-in-chief at Arizona Billingual Newspaper. Here are my takeaways.
Community building and establishing meaningful relationships with both journalists and our neighbors were the main themes I took away from the event. Addressing issues surrounding the election, future trends in the media, and stories they hope to cover, each keynote speaker had insightful comments about the ins and outs of today’s local media environment.
Christopher made connections to the presidential elections, commenting on how to navigate rumors and conspiracies in the media. Christopher discussed which conspiracies are worth addressing in the media and which are worth leaving alone. Drawing from his experience as a reporter, he suggested to “go and chase it and actually see if there’s something there, and if there’s not, leave it be.” In other words, don’t try to search for the answer you want. Don’t try to back the conspiracies. Only air things of note, like dates and facts, but put it in context without feeding into the conspiracies or offering opinions. He also advises not to “run the story dry.” Christopher noted: “However exciting it would be to break an election scandal, don’t re-hash the same rumor over and over again.”
In terms of what he foresees, Christopher made a point that border relations and election updates are ongoing topics. Community relations issues on his radar for this upcoming year include getting out in the world and talking to real people who are most affected by these ongoing topics, and more specifically, the decisions of certain elected officials.
“There’s more to border patrol than just building a wall—arts, culture, and communities of real people are all involved,” says Christopher.
Leeza had some very insightful comments about how PR folks can build better relationships with journalists. She pointed out the importance of carving out time on the clock to build relationships, stating that it’s a “huge piece of the puzzle to creating a more connected community.” With work-life balance being more important than ever before, creating time and space that’s purely dedicated to getting to know community members is just as, if not more valuable, than writing a headlining story.
Furthering the discussion of community relations, Alma touched on two key stories she wishes to work on in the future that she has yet to cover. Considering topics and trends that real-life community members want to know more about, she hopes to cover more stories on what’s happening at the border of Mexico and, in line with Christopher’s hopes for the future of the media, hopes to hear from the people most affected by changes in border policies. She also wants to share more about what’s happening with youth, targeting the Hispanic community, and especially covering the war on drugs.
“We need to share more information and create workshops for parents, especially in Spanish, to help them build better relationships with their children,” said Alma. “Children aren’t talking with their parents enough, and I want to change that.”
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