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Media Skills for Changemakers

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Presenter: Helio Fred Garcia

The news media covers stories that are interesting, not merely what’s important. This workshop provides insight on how to generate effective media coverage of social justice advocacy. It includes how reporters make news judgments, how to interview effectively, and how to frame events to secure coverage and rally support.

Transcript

[LET'S GET IT STARTED BY THE BLACK-EYED PEAS]

FRED GARCIA: Good afternoon.

AUDIENCE: Good afternoon.

FRED GARCIA: Oh, come on. You can do better than that. There's a rally later. Good afternoon.

AUDIENCE: Good afternoon.

FRED GARCIA: Thank you. Welcome to Media Skills for Change Makers. Who here wants to change the world? Who here thinks it's easy to change the world? I'm glad you're here. This is a session on how to change the world, and how to do it effectively. This is, of course, called Media Skills for Change Makers. It is a one and a quarter hour distillation of a 40 hour course, that I've taught for the last five years at the Starr King School for the Ministry. I refer to this session as, the scotch, whereas the Starr King 40 hour session, is the beer. And I much prefer scotch to beer.

So this is an intense session. It is a distillation of 40 hours of work. And I'm very pleased to see some alumnae of the Starr King program in the room. Thank you for coming out and supporting it. A couple of quick words of welcome. Today, we are going to talk about a specific technique for being effective in public ministry. It is a technique that has been proven and honed over the last dozen or so years at the Unitarian Universalist Association and at the Starr King School for the Ministry. A very, very brief bit of introduction, on the part of the presenters, today.

I am Fred Garcia. I am the president of the Logos Consulting Group. We are a consulting firm that deals with institutions in distress. We're based in New York. We have clients around the world. And I'm also the executive director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership. That is our research publication and executive education arm. I am also, in addition to being the chair of the board of trustees at Starr King School, a member of the adjunct faculty at Starr King. And that's the reason that you are getting the scotch version of a beer version course, in the session. Other times during the year, I'm a professor of management and communication at two of the graduate schools at New York University, and at the Swiss Federal Institute in Zurich. Everything we're learning in the session is also taught in those programs, as well. But there, the audiences tend to be Master's in business administration, or executive education of some form, including Master's in public relations and corporate communication.

Through my firm, I also teach as a contract instructor at the Wharton School of Business, and starting in August, at Tsinghua University in Beijing. All of these skills are also taught in those programs. So we are getting, not only best practices for not-for-profits and social advocacy, but best practices with people who actually have lots of money to invest. The good news is we're going to learn how to do it with less money to invest. I am joined in the session by Daisy Kincaid, who was the director of public relations for the Unitarian Universalist Association. And as is the practice in the Star King course, we always have someone from the UUA, in the communication office or in the Standing on the Side of Love office, address our students, and I'm thrilled that Daisy was able to invest time, in a very busy day, to share with us, as well.

For the last 13 years, I've been an adviser to the Unitarian Universalist Association on a range of issues, from sexuality education, being highly controversial in the culture wars, to other forms of things. Most significantly, two and a half years ago, I was asked by President Bill Sinkford, in the aftermath of the Knoxville shooting, to put together a justice advocacy campaign that has come to be called Standing on the Side of Love. And all of the techniques we're going to talk about in this session are the techniques that informed the formulation of the plan for Standing on the Side of Love, and that informed the implementation of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign.

So, to the degree that you've experienced the Standing on the Side of Love campaign, and to the degree I see many of you are getting ready for the rally, that you participate in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign, you should know that it is a direct result of the disciplines that the UUA, and that Starr King, and that others, have developed over the last 13 or 14 years. If anyone here is interested in tweeting. Several of you have asked permission. By all means, feel free to tweet the session. If you want to ask questions or continue discussions when we're done, tomorrow from 11:30 to 1:30, I'll be in the Starr King booth in the exhibition hall. You can also send me an email. You can also follow me on Twitter. You can also look at my blog and post a message there. If you can't remember the email address, it's Lagosinstitute.net/blog. Having said that, today we're going to focus on three things.

We are going to focus, first, on how to take change seriously. If we want to change the world, we need to take change seriously, and to be sufficiently disciplined to do what is necessary to actually affect change. Number two, we're going to talk about how to take the media seriously to the degree that we need the media to cover our issues as a way to amplify our voice, and to rally others to our cause, and to get others to embrace our cause, to the degree that we need to use the news media to affect change. We need to take the news media seriously.

And third, we're going to talk about taking message seriously. And we need to be as disciplined in message as we are in other realms. And I lovingly suggest that this is a particular area of challenge for Unitarian Universalists. And we'll talk about some of the ways to be disciplined in our message development and message delivery. Daisy is going to share with us ways to begin to implement all of this in your congregations, in your organizations, in your multi-faith advocacy groups. How do you take the lessons and apply them on day one? How do you apply them today at the rally, where there's going to be news media? How do you apply them when you go back to your congregations, or go back to your organizations? How you bring this to life in real time?

So that's our agenda. It's jam-packed and fun-filled. And we're going to have quite a ride for the next hour. Please feel free, if anything seems not to make sense, to challenge, jump in, et cetera. But I am going to try to keep the session going with some intentional speed. Having said that, if we are to take change seriously, we need to start with a clear articulation of the expected result. And getting a clear articulation of the expected result is not easy. And it is particularly a challenge when we are tempted to do so many things. When we are tempted to raise our voice on so many issues. I see some smiles of acknowledgment. When we are tempted to try to affect the world in lots of ways, it's very easy to miss the mark.

SPEAKER 1: You don't know what it's like out there. I've worked in the private sector. They expect results.

FRED GARCIA: We need to expect results, too. We need to expect results, and the starting point is understanding, what is the result we want to have? There is a prominent business leader who has shared with us the observation that the best thing about not planning is the failure comes as a complete surprise. We need to plan so that, A, we don't fail, and, B, that we can predict what the likely outcome is going to be. Let me share with you one of the things that John Buehrens shared with other folks, back in his time in office, as president of the UUA. After many, many years of introspection, the UUA encouraged congregations to become visible in their communities, and encouraged them, in particular, before there was someone like Daisy to help them figure out how, to invite the media to see all the good things you're doing in your congregations. And there was a church in the Southwest somewhere—I won't name it—but decided that the way to showcase the diversity in the congregation was to invite the news media to their congregational talent night. I see some amused looks around the room. And the congregational talent night was great. There were dozens of people performing their talent in wonderful ways.

One particular congregant showed her talent in interesting ways. She happened to be an exotic dancer, who in the chancel performed her talent, leading the newspaper the next day, to run the predictable headline, Stripper, not scripture, at Unitarian church. And then the congregation threw its hands up and says, inviting the media doesn't work. Because it was the media's fault. I see some smiles. John's mandate to the Public Witness Team, that he formed in 1998, was, let's never let this happen again. So beginning in 1998, the Public Witness Team in Boston began to develop a way to plan public visibility with a result in mind. And they developed a tool that has been used continuously since 1999, when it was first developed. And it's called a Continuum of Public Witness Impact.

And if we are to take change seriously, we need to know precisely, what is the impact we want to accomplish, and as significantly, what are the resources necessary in order to accomplish it. And that mismatch between resources and aspirations is a critically important, predictable, and preventable mismatch. So the continuum, as it was constructed, then, and continues unchanged for the present, is this. Starting from irrelevant visibility, where people are puzzled. Stripper, not scripture. Through, energize our own UUS in the pews, to attract new members to our congregations, or to our movement, influence public decision makers, for example, in Albany, shift public attitudes, so that there's political cover when decision makers make decisions. And ultimately, shift the culture and affect justice.

One of the things we found is, the higher up in this continuum we go, the harder it is, and the more important it is to be disciplined, focused, and assign resources sufficient to the aspirations. We need to assign resources sufficient to the aspirations. And that is a common skipping of a step that many well-intended organizations engage in. We need to always match resources to aspirations, or it's not going to work. The good news is, if you know how to effect change, you can invest resources efficient. As the UUA got better and better at working up this continuum of impact, then the challenge became, how do we actually prioritize? How do we make decisions about which issues to advocate, which causes to sponsor, which rallies to attend? We developed a set of criterion, that the Starr King students will not be surprised to learn, number exactly three.

We established three criteria for planning public witness. The first criterion is grounding. Why the heck should we even take a position on something? And grounding, itself, consists of three subsets. Do we have theology on this? Is there a theological tradition? Is there a body of theological work that has already begun to inform us on this issue? Do we have this issue reflected in our congregational life? And in particular, is it reflected in our worship practices? And finally, have we engaged in social action, already, and have a history of that engagement? And at the UUA, the discipline we embraced is, if the answer to all three is yes, then we have sufficient grounding. And one of the measures for the UUA on grounding was, is there a general assembly resolution on it? If so, there's grounding. If not, there isn't. And if there wasn't, we wouldn't engage. And that was hard. Because people wanted us to engage on lots of things. But absent grounding, we didn't feel we had sufficient standing to engage. You need to figure out your own grounding criteria. But grounding is the first step in prioritizing.

The second is fit. And at the UUA, when we define fit, it also consists of three subsets. Do we have informed leaders who are themselves inspiring? Do we have institutional resources? Are there books? Are there religious education curricula? Are there committees already established? Do we have an infrastructure? Do we have a body of knowledge? What is the resource level that is available to us? And finally, of all the things our leaders can spend their time on, do they want to spend time on this? Again, at the UUA, if the answer to all three of these was yes, we'd engage. If the answer to any one of the three was no, then we'd defer. It was hard to defer. But it was a critically important discipline defer.

And then finally, opportunity. Is there any public interest in the issue, yet? And if there isn't, what's the likelihood that we, or someone like us, could generate it? If there isn't public interest, then we don't yet have opportunity. We may have to do some homework or some field work to begin to develop that interest. But if there isn't interest, you're going to be throwing a lot of resources into a really, really deep hole, and have a real hard time getting those resources back. Are there other voices who can amplify ours who agree with us? And that's important. Because we're a relatively small movement, even if we have a loud voice.

The more voices that are congruent with ours we can find, the better it is. But we need to be careful. Because it's so easy for UUs to disappear in the crowd of allies. And be seen, just as, another gay rights group, or another anti-death penalty group, or another environmental group. Is there a way we can maintain our religious identity, while in partnership with other groups? And then, finally, do people disagree with us? And, as we're going to see in the second part of our session, taking media seriously, the more people disagree with us, the better it is. Because, that's one of the things that makes it interesting.

So we want contrary voices too. If everyone says, yeah, of course, we love motherhood, and apple pies, and babies, then why would anyone rally in favor of those things? These criteria have worked. They have been sometimes controversial, cause people didn't like the decisions that resulted. But it allowed the UUA to devote resources where the resources could actually have an impact. And not squander resources where they wouldn't have an impact.

Two and 1/2 years ago, when President Sinkford asked me and my colleagues to develop what became Standing on the Side of Love, we used the continuum of public witness impact, and we used these three criteria as the reality check on what it would take to develop such an initiative. And in the concept paper the laid all of this out for the UUA leadership, we used the vocabulary specifically by laying out, what is the hope of this campaign. What is our level of grounding, and fit, and opportunity. And we inventoried the UUA, and congregations, and related organizations, on all three of those criteria. We then asked, how do we define the campaign? What is it that we are trying to accomplish? And how granular can we get in trying to accomplish it? And we needed to limit the focus very specifically, in order to be able to figure out what we were trying to accomplish.

And the focus became violence, exclusion, and oppression, based on identity. So the criteria became, if it is an instance of violence, or exclusion, or oppression based on identity, it's within scope. If it isn't one of those things, it's beyond scope. That may be appropriate for any other number of groups to grapple with, but it won't be us. Because that's beyond our scope. An explicit description of what is within and beyond scope, based on grounding opportunity and fit is important. We also noted that we would need to match our aspirations with a dedicated staff that would be aggressively opportunistic. It would be medium agnostic, meaning it wouldn't be like the functional areas at the UUA, an electronic office, and a public relations office, and an information office, and a ministry office, and a field office. It would embody all of the instruments of influence in a single campaign.

And therefore, it shouldn't reside within the UUA. It should reside beyond the UUA. And be freed of the burdens of bureaucracy from within the UUA. And we laid that out in the paper. And it was very hard for them to swallow. But to their credit, they did. That, the reality check was, this wouldn't have launched successfully—and Daisy, I see a smile and a nod—this wouldn't have launched successfully if it had been a staff function at the UUA. If it had to fit in one of those, it wouldn't work.

We also said, it needs a theme that we have standing to talk about, grounding, opportunity, and fit. The theme has to be a religious theme. And it has to capture the imagination. And the imagination that was captured was Standing on the Side of Love, which was a hymn and a campaign in Northern California that had succeeded. And the question was, can we re-purpose the hymn and the campaign to become, essentially, the anthem of this Standing on the Side of Love campaign. And it was controversial. And it took a lot of thinking, and discussion, and debate.

But ultimately, the decision was, yeah, of all the things we could theme this to, that's probably the right thing to theme it to. And then finally, what is the specific scope, in terms of activity, as well as resources? And what is the staff that is necessary? And finally, how will we know if we've succeeded? What are the specific criteria to know whether we've succeeded up that continuum of public witnesses impact? I commend to use some tool like that for your planning on your justice campaigns. If you're serious about change, you need some set of tools like this to be able to plan for the change, take that planning seriously, and align resources to aspirations.

And Daisy, in a minute, is going to come up and identify for you some of the easiest to find resources, where you can get precisely the things that I've already talked about. The UUA guides and toolbox, that has grounding, opportunity, fit, and has that continuum of public witness impact, and also has the other stuff that we're going to talk about. The campaign was launched two years ago at GA in Salt Lake.

Initially, through the brilliant, hard, dedicated work of Adam Gerhardstein, who on a shoestring budget was able to turn this into something spectacularly good. And, a year later, when Adam finished his one year deferment from starting law school, Dan Furmansky stepped in, and for the last year, has been the campaign manager of Standing on the Side of Love, and also has done brilliant work with the UUA staff, and with congregational staff, and with volunteers, and with others. The campaign has gone well. It needed both the infrastructure and the dedication and hard work of people like that, and the dedication and hard work of people like all of us, in order to make it work.

But it needed all three. Any one or any two of those would have been sufficient. It needed all three. So that's the first thing to talk about. How to take change seriously. And taking change seriously means understanding the change you want to effect, and being disciplined and thoughtful in how to effect it. Second theme, taking the media seriously. And several of you before the session were kind enough to share with me some of your frustrations with the news media. One of you said, our congregational communication committee says the news media will never cover us because we're boring. Or because, they don't know how good we are, and we can't seem to convince them. Or because, they're not interested in our advance.

And I believe that that is absolutely true. I also believe that that isn't a permanent condition, that we can actually get the news media to cover us. But to do that, we have to take the media seriously. And taking the media seriously doesn't mean fetishize the media, or perform idolatry on the media. But rather, to understand how they actually do the sausage making of journalism. And I say about journalism what Bismarck used to say about legislation. It's a lot like sausages. If you want to maintain your appetite for it, you don't want to watch it actually being made.

So today, we're going to take a tour of the sausage factory that is journalism, and see how journalism is actually made. And we need to take journalism seriously, if we are to influence the world through the news media. If you talk to journalists, and I talk to journalists a lot, and I speak in journalism conferences, in journalism schools. And I fight with them a lot. They will say things like, it is our role in a first amendment society, to provide citizens with the information they need in order to make informed choices. And I believe that they really believe that. I believe they really believe that. I'm not being cynical or suspicious.

But I also believe that that's not at all predictive of how they're actually going to cover a story. What is predictive of how they're actually going to cover a story—whether they believe that or not. And I believe that what is predictive is this. Reporters are not Educators Reporters are not in the information business. Reporters are storytellers in a storytelling business. And if we want to take media seriously, we have to take storytelling seriously. And we have to recognize that they take storytelling seriously. And when they talk to each other about their craft, they talk about storytelling.

SPEAKER 1: Barack Obama has a very compelling personal story. John McCain's is compelling, as well.

JENNIFER PALMIERI: Barack Obama is a really great story.

SPEAKER 2: They like McCain's story.

SPEAKER 3: Barack Obama's story.

SPEAKER 4: McCain's story.

SPEAKER 5: McCain's story is amazing. Obama's story is—

FRED GARCIA: They talk about stories. We can figure that out just by paying attention. They talk about stories. The single most watched television news program in the United States, for the last six years, has been the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Who knows the advertising tag line for the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams? Why, according to NBC, should you watch the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams?

SPEAKER 6: [MUSIC] Reporting America's story. The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

FRED GARCIA: The reason to watch the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams is, you're going to hear a story. Better yet, it's a parochial story. It's not about any of those people. It's America's story. If there isn't an American, it's unlikely to be on the news, unless something really, really bad happened. But even in Egypt, it took American journalists being roughed up for this to move from NBC and Fox and the others, to all the time on NBC, from MSNBC, Fox and others, to move to all the time on NBC, and CBS, and ABC. It took American journalists getting roughed up for it to become the network evening news story that it became. But the key is, it's stories that people actually want to watch.

They don't want to hear about our congregation when everything is going well. They'd love to hear about the exotic dancer in the chancel. They'd want to read or watch that one. If we take journalism seriously, we have to focus on stories that people actually care about. And they don't care about what we care about. They care about stories. We need to understand the storytelling that is journalism, and journalists have to do a delicate balancing act. At the core of everything they do, is, is it even interesting? And if it isn't interesting, it doesn't make it onto the news. If it isn't interesting, it doesn't make it into the paper. They can't come back without the interesting. They are sent out into the world to get the interesting.

Don't come back without the interesting, say the editors. And after getting beaten up by editors enough times—and Daisy, forgive me, you've been a reporter—so, you get beaten up by editors enough time, and you're an editor doing the beating up. Good. You come back with the interesting, or you know you're not getting on the air. Or you know you're not getting on the front page. We tend to focus on two other things. We tend to focus on what's really important. And we tend to focus on what is accurate. Oh, God, yes. And it's inspired a burst of theological revelation. We tend to focus on the important and the accurate.

Reporters don't mind covering the important, so long as it's also interesting. They can't cover the important unless it's also interesting. Here's our strategy for media engagement. And I say this lovingly to those congregations who said the media will never cover us. Our task is to take what we know to be important, and make it so interesting that they can't resist covering it. Our task is to take what we know to be important and make it so interesting that they can't resist covering it. The other thing to note is, reporters have very little tolerance for complexity or nuance. They will oversimplify. If you know that, then the further element of the strategy, after taking what you know to be important and making it so interesting, they can't resist using it, is do to simplification yourself, so that they are unlikely to get it wrong. This drives UUs crazy, cause we don't like simplification. We like to complexify. And every time we do, we throw our hands up and say, the media doesn't get it. They get it. We need to get it. The media can't cover complexity in daily journalism.

They can't cover rigorous, scrupulous adherence to nuance in daily journalism. The longer the forum, the more likely they are to be able to cover complexity. But even then, they simplify it still. Having said that, if we know what reporters find interesting, we can engage them in ways that tell our stories. But reporters can't resist covering the interesting, even to the exclusion of the important, even to causing affirmative harm. Let's look at an example of the news media covering something that they knew in their hearts they shouldn't cover, and that is what happened when a preacher in Northern Florida, in a very small congregation, unilaterally proclaimed a three hour period that he called, international burn a Koran day, coming up to the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

And the news media, after this went viral through blogs and social media, the national and international news media was all over it, even while saying, we shouldn't be covering this story. We shouldn't be covering this story. Even Rachel Maddow, whom I adore, went on the air and said, I don't want to cover this story, but I have to do. But, because the pastor wants attention, I'm not going to mention his name or shows his picture. OK. But that suggests that accuracy isn't all that important, even to Rachel, which disappoints me. Let's look at a defining moment in the coverage of Pastor Jones.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-The media was very circumspect about whether or not they should even be covering these provocative acts, perpetrated by propagandizing, pyromaniac, proselytizers. Perhaps they shouldn't. But this next clip exemplifies how often the media's better angels get the shit kicked out of them.

-This guy is clown of the Earth, and we shouldn't be having a conversation about what he is or he isn't gonna do. I mean, we can't address all these whack jobs throughout the country. But, there's a second side of this, Chris, that's really important. The rest of the world, the Muslim world—

-Cenk. I've got to interrupt you, because here's the Pastor. Let's hear what he has to say.

-And the winner, and still undefeated champion, in the battle between the media's super-ego and id is id. Poor media. They can't help themselves. They're not bad people. You know what the media is? They're the dog from the movie, Up.

-My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may talk. Squirrel.

-We should not be following Pastor Jones. Pastor Jones.

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: The media is easily distracted by bright, shiny objects. Therefore, dangle bright, shiny objects. For example, yellow t-shirts that nobody else wears. They show up in pictures, says Tom. Yeah. The media chases squirrels. We need to become squirrels. Let's look at the media's commitment to accuracy. Most of the time, when the media gets something that you think is wrong, it isn't that they made outright factual errors. It's that there wasn't completeness. That there wasn't sufficient nuance. I see some heads nodding. But if the story is squirrel enough, they don't really mind getting it outright wrong, even at the risk of causing lots and lots of harm. Let me ask you this. What is that?

AUDIENCE: UFO.

FRED GARCIA: UFO. What else? Plane shot down. The Challenger space shuttle. No. It is a mystery missile. So here's what happened. On November 8, 2010, the KCBS traffic helicopter was flying at about 10,000 feet above the Los Angeles shoreline, and it shot the sunset in the West, and saw this interesting cloud formation. Someone in the newsroom said, that looks like a missile launch. And the squirrel chase began. Let's look at the first broadcast, the evening of November eighth, on KCBS, the CBS owned and operated station in the second largest media market. And, as you watch it, please take note of all of the factual statements made in the piece. And when it's done, tell me what you think the story is.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-Well, now back to that mysterious missile launch. The bright light could easily be seen up in LA. But tonight, we're still trying to figure out what it was.

-It seems Marcella Lee did some digging, and joins us with how tough it was to find an answer. Marcella.

-Beverly and Carlo, we put in a lot of calls to the Navy and Air Force tonight, about this, an incredible missile launch off the coast of LA, around 5:00PM, but so far, no one seems to know anything about this launch. So we showed the video to ambassador, Robert Ellsworth, a former deputy secretary of defense, to get his thoughts.

-It is spectacular. It takes people's breath away.

-Who launched this missile and why remain a mystery for now.

-It is a big missile.

-These magnificent images were captured from the KCBS news helicopter in Los Angeles, around sunset. The location of the missile, West of LA, North of Catalina Island, and approximately 35 miles out to sea.

-Yeah, you're looking at the LA harbor.

-A navy spokesperson tells News8, this wasn't their missile. He says, there was no Navy activity reported in that part of the region.

-And we have lift  off.

-On Friday night, Vandenberg Air Force Base launched this del 2 rocket, carrying the Thales Alenia Space Italia Cosmos SkyMed satellite. But a sergeant, at the base, tells News8, there have been no launches since then.

-That's a pretty big contrail.

-We showed the video to Robert Ellsworth, former US ambassador to NATO, and a former deputy secretary of defense.

-It's not a tomahawk.

-He said we should wait for definitive answers to come from the military. But when we asked him what he thought it could be.

-Well, I'm just speculating.

-Ellsworth said, maybe, just maybe, with President Obama in Asia, this could have been a show of our military muscle.

-It could be a test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine. Underwater submarine to demonstrate, mainly to Asia, that we could do that.

-Ambassador Ellsworth says that was done in the Atlantic to demonstrate America's power to the Soviets, when there was a Soviet Union. But he doesn't believe it's ever been done over the Pacific. But, again, he emphasizes that is just speculation. And as of tonight, it remains a mystery missile. Barbara Lee.

-Marcella, thanks. The next missile launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base is scheduled for sometime in December.

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: Squirrel. This was the beginning of the squirrel hunt that went on for three days. It is a big missile. You heard that. A mysterious missile launch, right in this spot on the map. Let's watch. The next morning the Pentagon says, we don't know what is. It isn't a missile of ours. NORAD and NORTHCOM says, we did not monitor any missile launch. That was enough for the media to put the story to rest.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-A missile was launched off the California coast, last night.

-A mysterious missile launch.

-Is it a missile? What is it?

-Somebody knows. Whoever launched it.

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: Whoever launched it has to know, he said. Continuing.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-We have called every military base in the Western region. We have called NORAD. We have called NORTHCOM. We called the Coast Guard, the Navy, the Air Force, the Pentagon, local members of congress. No one knew anything.

-We're just getting no answers from the government, from all these different departments of the government. [END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: We're getting no answer from the government, so it must be a missile.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-It looks like it could be a launch from a submarine.

-A missile from a Navy ship.

-Is it be a secret test?

-Or Russian sub.

-A commercial launch of a satellite.

-Optical illusion.

-Meteorite.

-A show of American force.

-Maybe even a US intercontinental ballistic missile.

-Some kind of black ops or secret highly undercover operation.

-What else could do that?

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: What else could do that?

AUDIENCE: A jet?

FRED GARCIA: Well let's see. This was all mystery missile all the time, on Tuesday, the ninth, and Wednesday, the tenth, until a non-journalist started looking into it. But, here are the various things that viewers of MSNBC, of Fox, of CBS, of ABC, of NBC, would have heard the experts say. It was a submarine missile, a Navy ship missile, a Black-ops test, an accidental missile launch, a show of American force, a Russian missile, a meteorite, an alien UFO, a strike on alien Pleadians. [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-I saw a big plume coming up, rising from

FRED GARCIA: This is on Wednesday

-It looked like beyond the horizon, and it continued to grow.

-He zoomed in and stayed on it for about 10 minutes. To him, it looked like an incoming missile.

-Did you say ten minutes? An incoming missile that he was able to track for 10 minutes? Don't missiles travel, like, 18,000 miles an hour? So, 10 minutes in missile time is 3,000 miles. If it was a missile, wouldn't it be in [BEEP] Hawaii by then?

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: It took a non-journalist to step back, and say, hey folks, this doesn't make any sense at all. The next morning, the Pentagon confirmed it was an airplane. It was an airplane. It was an airplane shot from 10,000 feet, where you normally don't shoot airplane contrails, at sunset, which isn't when you normally see contrails. So the angle, and the appearance of the contrail, were a little out of the ordinary. But it was a perfectly routine event.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-36 hours after the video of the mystery missile went viral, the Pentagon, with all its satellites, radars, and command centers, finally put it to rest. Sort of.

-All of those factors together leave us pretty confident that this was a contrail caused by aircraft.

-Pretty confident the contrail, short for condensation trail, was left by a jet airliner. That, after checking with the FAA, Department of Homeland Security, the Navy, the Air Force, and the North American Air Defense Command. Mic West, who runs a website devoted to con trails, knew it was an airplane the moment he saw the video.

-It's coming, more or less, straight towards you. And it's in level flight. Is not climbing. It's not descending. It's probably around 35,000 feet.

-How can that be, when it looks, for all the world, like it's climbing into space. Well, look at this photo of another contrail that caused a minor Internet sensation last New Year's Eve. No airliner can climb like that, right? Wrong. Look at it from the side.

-The same contrail, that looks like a rocket, that from the side, it just looks like a contrail passing by.

-Now, go back to the video of the mystery missile.

-I've got a fairly good idea that it was US Airways, flight 808, from Hawaii, Honolulu, to Phoenix.

-Here's a web cam photo of flight 808, taken yesterday evening. Compare that to a still-frame from the mystery video shot Monday evening. Virtually identical.

-Katie, maybe the Pentagon can use a few more good contrail watchers, like Mic West.

-Sounds like it. David Martin, at the Pentagon tonight. David, thank you.

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: So CBS's conclusion is that the Pentagon should have known that it wasn't a missile because CBS told the world it was a missile. Please, save us from committing news, Pentagon. CBS's reaction was not any introspection that maybe they jumped the gun on scaring the heck out of people. But rather, the Pentagon should have told us it was an airplane, when we told the world it was a missile. I suggest that if we are generally to think of news media as stewards of the public trust, this would never happen. But if we think of them as storytellers, this happens. So if we are to take the media seriously, and if the media has to come back with the interesting, the only question remaining is, well, what do the media consider interesting. And here's the good news.

There are only five things that the media considers interesting. There are always fight things that the media considers interesting. And if we want to get covered, we should do these five things. If we don't want to get covered, we should not do these five things. The better news is that in the English language, all five begin with the same letter. So they're really easy to remember. It's the letter C. We call it the five Cs of news.

Reporters are hunter-gatherers. They will gather the interesting when they can. They will hunt the interesting when they must. But they are indifferent as to whether they hunt or gather. If you want to be covered, give them the five Cs and they will use them. And they won't resent it. They will appreciate it. And they'll come back for more. If you don't give them the interesting, and they've committed to a story, they will have to hunt. And they will hunt in ways that may not help you. And if you engage the media to give them the five Cs, and they invite you to commit news on one of those five Cs on a topic that is unrelated to yours, resist the temptation.

I'm gonna say that again. If you, for example, are holding a Standing on the Side of Love rally, and you want the story to be the need to grant equal rights, including equal marriage rights, to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, and they ask you a question about, is it true that the UUA and the UUMA are fighting with each other about how you want to blah, blah, blah. And you talk about that, what'll be in the paper the next day.

AUDIENCE: That.

FRED GARCIA: Yeah. So we need to be really disciplined, when we put them in gathering mode, when they just, sort of, look around to see is there any hunting to be done, to not give them something to hunt. So, what are the five Cs. The single most interesting thing any reporter can ever write about is a conflict. Because reporters are storytellers, and human beings love stories about conflict. And we are a religious community. If you go to the scriptures of whatever religious community, you will find conflict as a defining narrative in all of those formative stories. Reporters are often accused of bias. I find it really interesting when I'm here and at other liberal places, that people tell me the news media is biased against us liberals.

And then I go to—I see heads nodding—and then I go to other places, and I hear people say, the news media is biased against us conservatives. I have yet to meet someone who thinks the media is biased in favor of them. I do believe the media has a bias, but it isn't a political bias. And I was astounded a couple of years ago when The New York Times said the very thing. The White House Bureau Chief of The New York Times said this about her profession.

Elizabeth Bumiller said, for the most part, the most reporters I know, are not passionately political, left or right. Our real ideology is a love of conflict, meaning that we have a bias for stories about, yes, personality feuds, but also about disputes over policy. Well, if they get to choose between a dispute over policy, or a personality feud, she's just told us through this use of, yes, that grudging acknowledgment, that personality feuds beat policy disputes every single time.

But any dispute beats everything else every single time. If we know that, we can use conflict to our advantage. For example, standing up against oppression, exclusion, and violence based on identity. That's a conflict story. That's a really interesting conflict story. And reporters will see it as a squirrel, and they will chase it. And that is good. Having said that, they may also try to get us to be even more interesting. Let's look at a example of somebody who's really good at this, inadvertently committing news. Let's look at President Barack Obama. Two years ago, July. July 22, President Obama wanted to launch his health care reform initiative. And he wanted to use all of the magisterial presence of his office to launch it. So he did an East room, prime time, press conference, and he was eloquent, passionate, and effective, on health care reform and why it's needed. And

For 56 minutes, he was brilliant. And I was home, cooking dinner, chopping vegetables, watching the president. And I said, wow, he's doing really well. And then in the 56th minute, he got a question from a reporter he liked, who used to cover him when he was a local politician, from the Chicago Tribune. And it was a question on something completely unrelated. And I smiled. And I even talked to the television. And I said, yeah, good luck with that. He's not gonna fall for it. And then I found myself screaming at the television. My wife came running into the kitchen and saw me holding a knife. She said, what's wrong? I said, ahh. Turns out, I wasn't the only one having that reaction. Let's watch.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-But, at the very least, Obama went on prime time television. He did his best to clarify a pressing issue. So, alright. That's it, folks. Valets have your cars outside. Kill the lights. Strike the press conference set. It's over.

-Alright. I tried to make that short, so that Lynn Sweet would give her last question in.

-Oh. You want to take one last question. Alright. Sure, why not roll the dice one more time.

-Thank you, Mr. President. Recently, Professor Henry Lois Gates Jr. was arrested at his home, in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you, and what does it say about race relations in America.

-No. Don't answer the

-Now, I don't know, not having been there, and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But, I think it's fair to say

-That it's a complicated issue. And I don't really have any comments at this time. Because I wasn't there and I don't know all the facts.

-The Cambridge police acted stupidly.

-[BEEP] I couldn't save him. I couldn't save him. Now, I wasn't at the press conference last night. I also don't have all the facts. But I think it's fair to say that Obama handled that question, oh what's the word I'm looking for, stupid—

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: As soon as President Obama said the Cambridge police handled that stupidly. Squirrel. It doesn't matter what else he said in that press conference. That's the story. As I was watching Daisy while she was watching that. And I can see Daisy throwing herself before the reporter in front of Peter Morales. You need to resist the temptation to defend your honor. Because the reporters are using a tactic to get you to be more interesting. As soon as President Obama said, the Cambridge police behaved stupidly, he lost control of the health care agenda. For three days, it was all Cambridge, all the time, the president had to go on television and say, I could've calibrated my commentary better.

It didn't work. On the eighth day, he had to host the infamous White House beer summit. Where the four guys couldn't even agree on which beer to drink. There were four beers served, not one of them American. It was all conflict all the time. All the while, the president's opponents stole the march on health care reform, framed it as a massive government takeover of health care with death panels, and the president never recovered. And what passed in February was a faint version of what was proposed. Such a faint version of what was proposed in July, that in July it would have been considered a failure. And it isn't the media's fault. It's the president's fault for inadvertently committing news.

My urgent hope for you is that you never inadvertently commit news, that you only intentionally commit news. And here's the good news. You don't need conflict to commit news. It helps. But there are four other things you can use to commit news. The second is contradiction. And of all of the forms of journalism storytelling, contradiction is the single most common. Conflict is more interesting. But there aren't enough conflicts to go around. Reporters will take a contradiction story every time. And here are the most common forms of contradiction. Role reversal. You heard that if a dog bites a human being, that's not news. Human being bites a dog, that's news. Man bites dog. News. Every time.

They even teach that in journalism school. Other forms of contradiction. Anything contrary to the conventional Wisdom You might think that religious people are against marriage equality. But, guess what, that's a really interesting story. Anything that confound expectations. My favorite confounding expectations contradiction was from this week's New York Times about our lefty military. And it began, when they're not shooting missiles at people, the US Army is actually a socialist organization. It's a really interesting story. Go read it. It's a good story.

Any reversal of fortune. Someone is doing well and plummets. Someone is struggling and prospers. Really interesting story. Any violation of stated values, which is why people who moralize, like certain governors of the state of New York, who previously were uncorruptable prosecutors, named Elliot something or other, who put prostitution rings and money laundering in jail, suddenly uses money laundering to pay for his prostitutes. That's a really interesting story. And he's no longer the governor, but he is now a host on CNN. Words with double meanings. For example, the name of a former congressman from a certain district in New York. Opposite words, up, down, in, out, wide, narrow, he said, she said, saying the opposite of what you said before, doing the opposite of what you said you'd do. Let's take a look at some recent ones.

Now. John Buehrens, you may recall, at the Salt Lake general assembly in 1999, was in a fight with the Boy Scouts. And he said, in front of the GA, the Boy Scouts lied to me. The Boy Scouts can't be trusted. They lied to me. The associated press heard that, wanted to interview him, to bash the Boy Scouts. And Daisy's colleague, John Hurley, sat with John Buehrens, and said, they're going to try to get you to say bad things about the Boy Scouts. Don't. Use this as a platform to speak our theology. And use contradiction language. John Buehrens did, and the quote that appeared was, Unitarian Universalists believe that homophobia, not homosexuality, is the sin. And that became the quote heard all over the place. I'm sorry? Good. Exclamation point here. That's a really good contradiction. It's contrary to the conventional wisdom. It's really interesting. How's this one? Abortion right side invokes God, too. It's all contradictions.

On any given week, walk into the Washington Hilton. You'll see a bunch of people rallying troops, offering solace, conservative Christians. You might be forgiven for thinking such a group as Intention Friday in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton. People wearing clerical collars, crucifixed wedged at linen, covered tables with muffins, and all sorts of other things. The sponsor cast everything in a new light. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Really interesting story. Really interesting story. How's this one.

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love. Great, great contradiction. Fabulous quote. Completely theologically grounded. Tiny, Unitarian Universalist Denomination Claiming Loud Voice. Tiny and loud. That's all they need. Third C word, controversy. Good news is most of our stuff's already controversial. Fourth C word, colorful language. Colorful language is words that are short, words that are pithy, words that are vivid, words that are easy to remember. And the fifth C word is, a cast of characters. And, oh, by the way, religious leader is a character. Rev is a character. Meg Riley tells the story. Meg Riley, who for many years was the head of the advocacy of witness group at the Unitarian Universalist Association.

When she started going on CNN to the big, Jerry Falwell, she would wear Unitarian Universalist clerical garb, which meant she went as a civilian. She was just wearing her street clothes. And she got to CNN, and they would put the split screen up. And it would say, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, moral majority. And it would say Meg Riley, lesbian activist. She started wearing a collar to go on television. And suddenly, it was the Reverend Meg Riley, theologian. Yesterday's sermon in the service of a living tradition said that there is the authority of position. Wearing emblems of religious office is a powerful character. If you show up in a stole, if you show up in a collar, you will be seen as a religious leader.

If you show up in yellow t-shirts, you will be seen as a religious community. We need to show up religiously, cause that's a character. And it's a character that our side in the cultural wars needs to show. Because the movable middle needs to identify religiously, and if they can see that there's a religious community, and a religious case, they are are more likely to be on our side. I will close out the section, and then hand off to Daisy, by quoting a journalist from 1922, Walter Lippmann famously said that for the most part we journalists do not first see and then define. We define first, and then we see.

We need to know that and we need to help them through the characters that they already have in their frames of reference. We need to speak to them as characters. Now, let me point out. If you look at Standing on the Side of Love, all five Cs are in there. And the news media has come to notice that we show up, and when we show up, the news media say to each other, the love people are here. The love people are here. We are the love people. That's great. That's a great character. The love people. Now, Peter Morales was at a rally in Phoenix in August and a UUA staffer went to the television networks and said, would you like to speak to the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. They said, no.

She turned around, started walking away. Came back and said, you know, he's the head of the love people. He said, the love people? We want to talk to him. We are the love people. That's a great character. All five Cs are in Standing on the Side of Love. If you want to be covered, put the five Cs in your campaign. Final thought, and then we'll hand it off to Daisy. We need to use religious language.

We need to take message seriously. And use religious language, religious symbolism, the emblems of religious community. Standing on the Side of Love is religious language. There's lots of other religious language. But as I close, let me share with you what I think is the single best articulation of religious language in public advocacy that I've seen in the 13 years of working with the Unitarian Universalist Movement. And that is the Reverend Rob Hardies, the minister Of All Souls Unitarian, DC, a graduate of the Starr King School for the Ministry, and someone who has gone through Standing on the Side of Love training. And here he is speaking to the Washington City Council just ahead of the vote on marriage equality in Washington. [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

-Thank you Mister Chairman. My name is Robert Hardies, and I am the pastor of All Souls Church Unitarian,   here in the District of Columbia. I'm also the co-chair of DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality, a coalition of nearly 200 religious leaders, of many races, cultures, and faiths. And from every board in the district to support marriage equality. Mister Chairman, my faith teaches me that where love is present, God is also present. For, God is love. Further, I think that one of God's most precious gifts to us is our ability to love and to care for one another.

Therefore, I understand marriage to be a sacred covenant between two people committed to loving and caring for one another. When the state denies equal protection and security to some couples, simply because of their sexual orientation, the state harms them, making it more difficult for them to love and care for each other.

Such harm is an affront to basic fairness and human decency, and I believe that it's also an affront to God's justice and God's love. Now, I respect that there are honest differences in opinion on this issue in the religious community, and believe that the state should never force any religious society to participate in rituals that are contrary to its beliefs. That's why I applaud the council for including its strong religious liberty clause in this legislative. However, the religious beliefs of some do not justify the state engaging in discriminatory behavior, that harms some of its citizens. For these reasons, Mister Chairman, I urge the council of the District of Columbia to pass this legislation, and to stand on the side of all of its citizens, not some of them. Today, I urge you to do the right thing, and to stand on the side of love. Thank you.

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

FRED GARCIA: Rob's got game. That's pretty good. When it passed, the mayor, and the city council members, signed the marriage equality bill, in the sanctuary of All Souls DC. Wow. We can do this, but it requires discipline. It requires focus. It requires taking change seriously, taking the media seriously, taking message seriously. But we can do this. Daisy's going to share us how.

DAISY KINCAID: Thank you so much. It is really. Oh, I'm sorry.

FRED GARCIA: You can talk to me afterwards. Or you can talk to me after Daisy, before I wrap up.

AUDIENCE: Is there time to talk to address some of the things you  said and some of the things you didn't say.

FRED GARCIA: I'm happy to have them addressed, but we have eight minutes to go, and I did want Daisy to have an opportunity to speak to the group.

DAISY KINCAID: All right. I will make this quick. So I'll make sure that we have time for some comments and questions. But, first of all, I just want to thank Fred for including me in this presentation, today. It's really an honor to be here to talk to you all. And, second, I know that he mentioned that I was, in fact, a member of the press. I was a reporter and editor. And I just want to make a couple of quick comments on the sausage making and squirrel chasing. A couple of things that we need to remember—and having moved over to the other side of that, I see it even more clearly than I did when I was in the newsroom—

One, I know that a lot of folks come to the media expecting members of the press to be adversaries, as if they are purposely looking for the things that you don't like. And I know that, during the time that I was a member of the press, I was told, personally, that I was a misogynist, a man-hater, a liberal, a conservative, a tree-hugger, and someone who worships at the altar of the almighty dollar. Now, all of those things were said to me within a short few years. And what is said to me, really, when I was doing the job, was that I was doing it the right way. Because the day that people started coming to me and saying, thanks so much for doing it exactly the way I wanted it, I knew that I wasn't telling the whole story. The fact is, journalists are doing their best, given extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

They are chronically understaffed. They are expected to churn out news that competes with more and more outlets every day. Many writers are writing for free now on publications like the Huffington Post, which gets a huge number of viewers. And these are folks who aren't even paid. So professional journalists are working harder every day just to keep their jobs. When I was in the newsroom, every reporter in the room was expected to turn in two to three stories a day, every day. And it didn't matter what it was, as long as it hit one of those five Cs.

And that gets really tough to do day in, day out, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. So, having said that, it is great that you all are so motivated to be part of this, and be change-makers, and to use the media to your advantage. And I just want to mention that we also have some resources that are already available. Fred mentioned the UUA, of course, and then we also have some others. I'm just going to go through those, quickly. While the UUA is always working to provide new resources, we do have things available online immediately. I'm going to highlight just some of those. And we talked about opportunity, fit, and grounding. Now, one of the things that you're going to probably wonder about, from time to time, is whether we have grounding, as Unitarian Universalists, to take on a social justice issue. You can find all of those online.

All of our GA social justice statements are available online, in a searchable database, at that web address, right there. We'll make sure that you have that available to you afterwards. Now, I hope everyone here has also had an opportunity to visit the Standing on the Side of Love website. Most of you? What you may or may not have dug into is the excellent congregational toolkit that is available on the Standing on the Side of Love website. It's developed especially to assist regular, everyday folks, in achieving their goals around advocacy. You don't have to be a trained journalist or a trained PR person. You can do this on your own. And you have the energy and the will to do it.

And this tool kit can help you. I really can't stress enough how helpful the Standing on the Side of Love campaign has been in creating powerful social change, in what's really a very small religious denomination. I don't know if y'all know. But protestants make up roughly 23% of folks who identify with a faith in America. No. Protestants are 26%. Catholics make up about 23%. And Unitarian Universalists, at last count, make up 1/3 of 1%. So when you think about the impact that we have on social justice and in the media, that's pretty impressive. And Standing on the Side of Love has really gone a long way to do that. Now the UUA's advocates, in Washington, created a social justice handbook, that's available online, called Inspired Faith, Effective Action.

Now, their social justice handbook covers a wide range of topics. You can get anything there, from knowing your community, which will help you decide what kind of issues you want to tackle, to how to lobby members of congress, which may or may not come up. But if it does, there's the help you need. And of course, the UUA's Office of Information and Public Witness also has a public relations manual available, completely online. It can be downloaded. It's a PDF. You can you can download the whole thing. And I suppose, you can print it out and keep it, if you want. But it's available online, anytime. It's called Sharing the Good News. And that discusses, in detail, many of the points we've covered today. And can be used to map out a PR plan for your congregation from beginning to end. So beyond that, this is my contact information. I would love to hear from any of you. If you have comments or ideas. Anything like that, around social justice for the UUA, my email is there. You can follow me on Twitter @daisykin, and you can see me on Facebook at facebook.com/daisykin. Thank you.

FRED GARCIA: Thank you, Daisy. Thank you, Daisy, Just to recap, and then we'll be happy to take comments, questions, suggestions, et cetera., and I'm happy to hang out afterwards if there's continuing discussion that needs to take place. To summarize, three things to take away from today. If we are serious about changing the world, and we ought to be, we need to, first, take change seriously. And that means plan effectively. And planning ways to help us identify what is the change we're trying to see, what is the path to that change, and how do we align resources to match our aspirations, and how do we manage them along that path. Second, if we are going to attempt to change the world through the news media, we need to resist a sentimentalist view of the media either being an ally or an adversary. But we need to take the media sufficiently seriously, to know that they will cover what is interesting.

And as Daisy pointed out, at any given time, any reporter has to come back to the newsroom with two or three stories a day. And they don't have assistance. They don't have a lot of help. They're under continuous deadline pressure. Especially now that there's a continuous deadline, that there is no longer the luxury of waiting til 8 o'clock at night. We can help them be gatherers by giving them the five Cs, and they'll be grateful. If we fail, and they still have to come back with a story, they will hunt. And if they try to make us even more interesting, we need to resist the temptation. And then, finally, because what we're trying to do is change society through religious community, we need to raise a religious voice. We need to show up as a religious community. Taking message seriously means framing our issues in religious vocabulary, showing up as a religious community with visible emblems of that community, and as Rob Hardies demonstrated, use the language of religion. And someone here, Tom, noticed the affront to God's justice. He could have simply said, an affront to justice. But he said, an affront to God's justice. He's good. We can be good too. We just need to want to. So with that, I'll be at the Starr King booth tomorrow, 11:30 to 1:30. You can reach out to me by email. You can reach out to be by Twitter. I look forward to discussions. And now, sir, I'm happy to take your comments. And I'll ask you if you can come to the microphone, so that everyone can hear you.

AUDIENCE: I thought your presentation was very entertaining. But, I tell you, I don't think it has very much substance, in terms of really getting to what can be accomplished or should be accomplished. There are very substantive issues which the UUA has taken positions on. And the issue should be, not about the foibles of the press, which we all know. That's a reality of life. But, how do you harness the brain power within the UUA, and get it into the newspapers, particularly on editorial pages, where opinion can be formulated that we would know is right. Now, so much of the presentation today, had nothing to do with that. And I would contend that that's where we need to put a lot of emphasis on. You have to tie in what the positions are, how are you going to get them in the newspapers with a letter to the editor, which papers. This is a congregational thing that could be worked on with assistance. That television thing you showed. Terribly amusing. But that's not reality for us. I'm sorry. I think it misses the boat entirely, and that you really need to get some substance and direction.

FRED GARCIA: Thank you for that. I will respond in a couple ways. Number one, I encourage everyone to find ways to take the substance and make it as interesting as possible. I'll also suggest that the editorial page is an important place to be, but it's not the only place to be. And to the degree that television is the mechanism that most people get their news, and at present it is, we need to also know how to get covered in other media, as well. I'll also say, there are lots and lots of other resources on how to turn the substance into the interesting, including the ones that Daisy mentioned. And I'll invite you to go to those places, as well.

AUDIENCE: When the law changed in Arizona, for the immigrations, and it came up. It was here in North Carolina. I'm from Greensboro. My name's [? Steve Pearsol ?]. I go to the Greensboro church. And I started asking some of my friends on the social action committee at church, was there anybody that was doing anything about it. And they were like, we don't have time. We're not dealing with that right now. They started giving me contacts in the immigrant community. Nobody wanted to take it on, and it suddenly fell into my lap.

FRED GARCIA: OK. Good.

AUDIENCE: And I went to the UUA's congregational toolkit, and the other stuff on the website. And I have to tell you guys, that, given the contacts I got from the immigrant community, and our tool kit, I was able to get three television networks to show up, the local affiliates, two different English-speaking newspapers, and the Spanish language newspaper. I got all sorts of coverage. I got all sorts of feedback. Positive feedback. Because the message that our materials helped me come across with didn't come across as some left-wing flake that wants to let everybody just come in, just because we love everybody, but rather, coming across with a sensible approach. It gave me what I needed to do that. We even had the conflict, cause one guy showed up that was contrary to what we wanted to do. And he was a complete nut job. So we came across looking really sensible, really great. We had great ideas. And the materials we have there made it possible.

FRED GARCIA: Thank you for sharing that. That's great to here.

AUDIENCE: The gentleman who spoke first may find my comment to be lacking substance, and perhaps you will, but I just want to commend you on this presentation, and possibly his opinion in mind, just proves why, and I am, by the way, a fiction writer who often contributes to my local newspaper. Two people can read the same novel and come out with two entirely different interpretations. I found this presentation to be helpful, not only in how our congregation deals with the media. But I found myself transferring what I heard here today into other areas of our church functions. I happen to be one of the church leaders in one very important program, and this just inspired me in how I can perhaps take the program to another level. And I thank you. This is the best session I've attended so far.

AUDIENCE: Hi there. I'm Susie [? Spaielberg ?], from Starr King School of the Ministry, and I was fortunate enough to take Fred's course at intercession, and all I can share with you is that we had to practice. And the first time I've practiced, I froze. And had to run to the bathroom. And after his course, I have been interviewed. I have been giving presentations. And my work on immigration has been seen in multiple sources of media. And now I'm going to be presenting, both at a round table for immigration reform by the White House, in Tampa. And I'm going to be presenting in another congregation in Clearwater on issues of ministry, media, and social justice. If it weren't for what I learned from Fred's class,  I would be standing up there babbling like an idiot. And I would have been portrayed as such in the media. So thank you, Fred.

FRED GARCIA: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: You're welcome.

FRED GARCIA: Just a reality check. It is 4:07. I am happy to stay, and I encourage everyone to be in discussion. But I do know that you have other commitments. But please, ma'am, yes.

AUDIENCE: I, too, greatly enjoyed this. Would you say a little bit about the Standing on the Side of Love training.

FRED GARCIA: When Standing on the Side of Love was launched, we realized that part of the resources necessary to fulfill our aspirations, was a cadre of trained religious leaders, both clergy and lay leaders, who were skilled in interviewing, skilled in activism, skilled in lobbying, and who were able to rehearse in front of lights and cameras and shouting crowds. So we, I and Daisy, and Daisy's team, conducted, I believe, in all, it was, eight day long trainings, New York, Washington, Minneapolis, Oakland, Dallas, other places. And we trained about 250 religious leaders to be the first vanguard of being Standing on the Side of Love spokespeople. And they were the ones that actually made this catch fire and make it actually work. So that was the training. I'm not aware. But I'm no longer involved in the implementation of Standing on the Side of Love. I'm the architect, not the builder. Daisy is the builder, with Dan Furmansky and others. I'm unaware of whether there was training going on right now.

Media Skills for Changemakers is General Assembly 2011 event number 3048.

For more information contact pw_specialist @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, August 17, 2011.

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