BYOM – how to do it, and why
By Guy Page
December 26, 2019 – You’ve heard the usual complaints about the media. People say they are biased. Inaccurate. Lazy. They are agenda-driven ideologues.They are greedy corporate profiteers. Maybe both.
They, they, they. It’s so easy to shoot the messenger. Sometimes it’s deserved. Okay, then – what about you, you, you? You can Be Your Own Media (BYOM).
In a small state like Vermont, any thoughtful person can define the issues, influence news coverage, inform fellow Vermonters of all persuasions, and speak truth directly to lawmakers. You don’t need any money. You just need an internet connection and a bit of know-how.
Here’s how to do it.
- Write your message. Malcolm X advised, “make it plain.” To pick a subject, go to your favorite Vermont online news publication with a “comments” section (most have them). Read an article that interests you. When some debatable opinion or iffy fact captures your attention, you’ve found your topic. In three or four sentences, write down your reaction. Brief. Civil. To the point. Type or cut and paste it into the comments section. Press submit.
Trust me, your comment is doing the media a favor. Reporters and editors crave feedback. Negative is okay if it’s constructive. Any feedback is better than none at all. Your one comment reaches three important audiences: the people who wrote the story, readers who care about the story, and public figures mentioned in the story. A powerful megaphone, that single comment.
- If the comment is all you do, your influence in the public square already exceeds that of most other Vermonters. But don’t stop there! To increase readership, repost your published comment on Facebook. To do this, highlight and “copy” the news story/comment link and paste it into your Facebook status. The result should be your comment in text, with a link to the news story.
- Send your comment as a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper(s). You’ll need to include your name, phone number, and address. Click here for links to most Vermont newspapers.
- Start a Facebook Page dedicated to the issue you’re writing about – hey, why not? Post your own thoughts and share links from other thought-leaders and media.
- You can also call in to a talk radio show and read or paraphrase your comment. For example: call 244-1777 to speak on WDEV, which is all call-in talk radio from 9 am – noon Monday through Friday. An estimated 10,000 people are listening to WDEV in the morning at any given time. WVMT (Chittenden County), WSYB (Rutland), and WVPR (statewide) also have popular talk radio programs: see list for call-in numbers, email addresses, etc. They all welcome callers, because callers are customers. And callers are what make the show.
- Finally, BYOM to your own legislative representatives. In an email subject line, write your name, hometown, subject of email, and “please respond.” That heads-up alone virtually guarantees a thoughtful, personal response from legislators for your voting district. Even if the legislator knows you are unlikely to vote for him/her, no-one up for re-election every two years wants a reputation for being unresponsive. You can easily find your senator(s) and House member(s) email addresses and other contact information at this Vermont Legislature website link.
Links to statewide online media with comment sections include but are not limited to:
BYOM is habit-forming. So is teaching it to someone else. Instead of cursing the darkness. light a candle. Happy publishing!