"Stories are our way of sharing, dealing and documenting the way people behave, think and act."
It’s always darkest before the dawn, according to Florence and the Machine, and in recent times you need more than a flashlight to find any positive news in the dawning of COVID-19.
If there’s ever been a “water cooler moment” for the entire world, the viral spread of COVID19 has certainly gripped the conversation. Rightly so, every aspect of life has been affected by the growing global pandemic, just this morning 3200 new cases have been reported in Italy and 85 000 Iranian prisoners were freed to combat the spread. Sporting and music events have been cancelled, entire countries have been placed under self-isolation, the New York stock exchange has lost 30% value in seven days and for the Western World it seems as if this is just the start. The Coronavirus outbreak has already fundamentally changed how we live. This is not the usual stuff of office water cooler discussions.
The first point of call for media has been the reporting and sharing of information critical to dealing with the crisis. We’ve already seen inaccurate information, hype and some very thinly guised reporting. Established channels are the trusted source in written, spoken and moving form. As news of infections, global trends and solutions make bulletins and talk shows, the next layer of content is waiting to be created.
Let’s not waste a good crisis.
Media offerings are a bouquet, let the news hounds and journalists work on the hard facts and information - reporting and broadcasting. For the creatives and storyteller’s, let’s accept that when this crisis is reviewed in years to come, the hard news will be summarised as facts but the stories of humankind will be a living memory.
Stories are our way of sharing, dealing and documenting the way people behave, think and act.
As storytellers let’s position ourselves and find angles to create engaging content from COVID-19. There is so much going on in society, we can surely find engaging ways to share elements of human interest beyond bar graphs and hard news stories. Once you peel back the obvious panic, the variety of stories are out there playing themselves out daily. From Italians in apartment buildings playing instruments and singing together, to young people offering to do the grocery shopping for the elderly and football stars converting their hotels in hospitals, there is a silver lining to the plethora of face masks and social distancing people face. Stories are what will humanise this outbreak and make it relatable beyond the Wikipedia page.
The ingredients for compelling stories are amongst us.
The sportsperson affected but not infected by this virus. The athlete who has worked for years to qualify and compete in a life-long dream. The anxiety, the heartbreak and hope and disappointment Sports fans will now have even more reason to tune in.
The economics of the outbreak are fascinating, too.
Consumer habit changes, online shopping surges, product shortages, shattered retirement savings and retrenchments. Movie releases are being delayed and holidays cancelled. The economic news aimed at those who understand a barrel of brent crude oil could be layered with real stories of the economic impact now and in the months to come. If as a radio person you’re wondering if this will affect your career, broaden your mind-set to the audience. This is going to affect everyone.
Many joke that this is an opportunity to Netflix and chill, the reality is this will also become as boring as a 24hr news channel. Instead, let’s give them something to listen to.