Working the Media

Community Care are running a campaign ‘Stand up Now for Social Work’ which aims to highlight both the good and the bad in reporting of social work. It’s a fascinating campaign and a positive one and also, as we can see by recent news stories, one that is desperately needed.

Indeed, the magazine which is a mainstay for UK social workers, has set up a blog specifically to cover the campaign and media issues as they relate to social work called The Monitor.

image ernst moeksis @ flickr

A couple of posts there have caught my eye specifically over the past couple of days. Firstly a piece about social workers not being so wary of journalists and the importance cross-pollination of positive news stories relating to social work and social care as well as a need for a more realistic knowledge of social work by some sections of the media.

Perhaps it is easy to put the barriers up when you see some of the coverage that exists and some of the generalised hatred that seems to exist for the social work profession as a whole. I wonder if it is something that is relatively unique to Britain and the red-tops/Daily Mail style of reporting that seems to find anything connected to government somehow evil and controlling and fails to appreciate some of the actual day to day work that happens.

I have no wish to be ‘appreciated’ to be honest. Of course, on an individual level it is rather nice but as a profession it is wholly unrealistic.

As for speaking to journalists, apart from contractual restrictions, it is as much as matter of time!

Another post from the blog titled ‘Ten reasons why Social Workers must speak to the media’ provides exactly that.

Rather than re-listing all the points, I’d recommend reading the post as it provides some pertinent posts that almost made me want to go out and collar a journalist or two.

Until I considered that the new forms of the media are allowing us.. and me.. to have a distinct voice without the need for a conduit. I won’t have the readership of the Times or Telegraph but I do have the ownership.

Community Care reports that Behan, the ‘government’s social care chief’ (really? I’d never heard of him.. I didn’t know the government had one!) has called for

directors and social workers to stand up for themselves and stop “playing victims” in the face of public criticism.

and he goes on to say

“How much have you been doing to get stories into the Guardian and Community Care on adult care?” he asked delegates yesterday at the Association of Directors of Adult’s Social Services spring seminar .

But I humbly suggest  he’s got things wrong. We don’t really need to target The Guardian and Community Care because those news sources are naturally sympathetic. We should be focussing on the Mail, the Sun and television news and drama as well.

Not least, now we are living in an age where anyone can publish a blog, record a podcast and build an audience, albeit a small, niche audience. It might not change the world today, but it’s the way we are moving and social work needs to embrace more fully the possibilities of web-publishing, social networking and moving away from a mainstream media if the mainstream media shows little interest.

The stories are there – we just need to promote them and through it a greater understanding what what ‘social work’ actually is and does.

2 thoughts on “Working the Media

  1. Interesting post. I agree that there is a growing role for new social media in terms of building communities of like minded people and getting different perspectives out there. But I do think there is still a role for the mainstream media in terms of contributing to a “national mood” over a particular topic. I think there are inherent dangers in social work turning its back on mainstream debate.

    • I do agree with you actually – it’s just a matter of finding time to speak to journalists among the amount of work that floods in on a daily basis!

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