Soundbites from experts or concerned parties are powerful for telling a story through video. The soundbites fit the narrative of the person who is constructing the story, however, and don’t necessarily paint the entire picture. This is understandable given the time constraints of a 30 minute news program (more like 22 minutes after commercials) where stories have to be short and focused. One of the advantages of online video is that, for better or worse, the entire story can be told and the people being interviewed can give their entire viewpoint on a topic.
When the local ABC affiliate pointed their camera at me last Saturday, I figured that 99% of the content would be left on the cutting room floor. My expectations were met, as, out of a several minute interview, they used a few second soundbite where I suggested that crimes and vandalism were up at the local park and the neighborhood. What wasn’t reported were several elements that put that single sentence into perspective:
- That this uptick in crime has been occurring for years and really isn’t news; the traditional local media just had not been reporting it on a regular basis, at least at the micro local level. In the case of the Bay Area, the local media represents an area that is nearly the size of New Jersey, so it’s no surprise that it is rare for the spotlight be on a given neighborhood (and the stories that are highlighted are often salacious).
- We knew that crime has been an ongoing issue, thanks to our neighborhood’s private web site. This site, which was created to give the community a two-way communication tool, has informed the community of not only crimes, but positive developments as well. Because the efforts of the neighborhood association, more crimes are probably being reported, as the community has been educated about the importance of being a “squeaky wheel” and reporting all crimes, so police know where resources are needed.
- That crime isn’t specific to our area. Thanks to the various social media outlets, such as email groups, web sites, etc., we have seen reports of crime in other neighborhoods as well, so we know we are not alone and that it is a wider problem than our neighborhood.
- The online social tools of the web site led to a very active board that has actively been working with the local police, city parks and recreation department and the community to find ways to reduce crime.
- That the police departments of Campbell and San José are great partners with each other and have done an excellent job in responding to the community needs within the given constraints.
- The patrol the board initiated is a relatively low-cost way for the community to augment the work being done by the police forces.
- That, like with any dark cloud, there is always a silver lining. The silver lining for this story is that crimes have created a better community, which seems like an oxymoron. The rebirth of the neighborhood association and the active participation of the board is transforming the community through events that bring neighbors together face-to-face; for not-so-fun things like crime prevention forums, as well as positive events, like ice cream socials, park clean up days and an upcoming health fair. The association is also involving the local schools in these events, which promises not only to help the community, but our schools.
To this last point, the message in my narrative, which was different from the reporter’s story, is that times are tough everywhere and we need to work together and give each other a hand to make our communities better; whether it is making them safer, getting to know our neighbors better or helping educate our youth. Helping in the community is work, but the rewards are greater than the effort.
If only I had my video camera rolling, I could have told the whole story via video. At least I had the wits about me to snap a photo of my friend and fellow Moreland Little League coach, Bruce Wolk when it was his turn in front of the video camera to discuss the unique mobile neighborhood watch effort taking place in his neighborhood.