The media has a massive influence on politics in the United States. We need to democratize our media, but as we do that we must also work with the media to broadcast the messages and values that are important to us. A fantastically well-organized rally attended by 100 committed citizens is a beautiful thing. But if the media covers the rally, you will reach ten times that number with your message. If you want to talk to people outside your normal circle, media coverage is a must.
Remember, your local media work can have a policy impact: congressional offices read local papers every day, and getting your viewpoint in the media—and making sure that you send copies of whatever you publish to your members of Congress—can be an effective way to help influence policy.
Telling a story or communicating a point of view to reporters and editors is not always simple, though. You have to be clear and brief and at the same time thoughtful. You have to know certain tricks of the trade that will help your issue stand out from the hundreds of other interesting things happening in the world. This guide will help you get your perspective on Latin America policy into the media's eye. It contains basic primers on your options for media work, how to write a press release, how to pitch a story, how to write a letter to the editor and an op-ed, and other important tips.
Best of luck!
Parts of this section were adapted from the Spin Project; Making the News: A Guide for Nonprofits and Activists, by Jason Salzman, Westview Press (May 1998) and a media packet developed by Jason Mark of Global Exchange. Our thanks to these helpful resources. (Note: For an even more comprehensive guide to reaching the media, see www.spinproject.org).