Author's Note: With The Outlook's newly-created YouTube channel, select editions of The Ruttle Report will be made available in video form, starting with this week's edition. You can choose to read the column as presented, or hit 'Play' on the video below the text and listen to Derek recite it to you.
My observations of most TV news broadcasts over these last few months has seemed to only highlight the fact that while we do share a certain kinship due to both of us being in the media, that’s where the similarities end.
For one thing, I feel like we’re not on the same page when it comes to journalistic priorities right now in our world. Allow me to explain…
Not that I've been looking for any kind of extra attention, but lately I've tried reaching out to the local go-to news outlets at CTV, Global and CBC because this community area has put on a number of parade events that have truly lifted peoples' spirits through the COVID pandemic. Last month, a Mother's Day parade held in Outlook was one of the most heartfelt things seen in a long time, which was then followed by a school parade over in Kenaston that reminded people that teachers and staff were thinking of their students and community. A couple of weekends ago, the village of Dinsmore celebrated its graduating class of 2020 with some unique "mini ceremonies" and a community parade of its own.
Finally, just this past Saturday, the graduates of Outlook High School were made to feel like a million bucks as teachers, staff, parents, and what seemed like the entire community came out to hold a parade for them.
To say that I enjoyed being in the midst of all of it and armed with my trusty Canon would be an understatement. Such events have made my job over the last few months very enjoyable, even during these unique times.
Of course, I covered all of these events, taking hundreds of photos and shooting video footage, editing the clips and posting them to our Facebook page, and the videos have proven to be fairly popular around these parts. I then reached out to TV outlets and offered them links to the videos if they wanted to show a portion of them on their news broadcasts.
My thought process was simple: Hey, we're living in a crappy time right now in which we’re limited to what we can do, but here's a taste of what smaller communities in the province are doing to put smiles on faces and lift some spirits.
I reached out, but I never heard one peep from any TV outlets. I suppose that’s fair enough and maybe their shows had “enough news” (whatever that means), but here’s where I have a problem. For one, I’ve been told that there have been some of these alternative grad events taking place in bigger cities. Well, where’s the coverage of them?
Secondly, if you look at the pattern of TV news, they typically don't rush to cover the goings-on of smaller communities outside the cities of Saskatoon and Regina unless it's for something negative, whether it’s a car crash or a fire or maybe something crime-related.
In essence, when you look at what the TV talking heads are giving you every night (COVID, what Trump said, what Trudeau said, everyone’s racist to each other, rinse & repeat) and what community news publications give you, the difference is in the headlines. We don’t recycle the same story over and over with the odd update here or there; it’s a whole slew of different stories and news every week, both in print and online.
And in case you haven’t figured it out by now, we like showing off the good!
There’s a divide between TV and weekly community news that perhaps has never been more glaring, but I’m okay with it.
I just think Big City Media needs to remember that there are some pretty cool things happening in these smaller areas of Saskatchewan; they just have to do the work and look for it.
I guess I'm just glad that I work for a news outlet that in addition to the bad and the ugly sometimes (hey, it happens – that’s life), makes a point of publishing the good that's still happening out there. Judging by our website traffic numbers and social media statistics in covering and publishing stories like these, people seem to really enjoy them.
And hey, I get it. I know all too well that you run with the hot stuff so that you can feel that you’ve covered it better than any of the competition out there. There’s an old saying in the news biz, “If it bleeds, it leads”, which essentially means that if something tragic happened such as a mass shooting or a colossal crash – the Humboldt Broncos immediately come to mind – then that’s what gets all the coverage. But one big thing I’ve learned in my 13 years and change in the “rural news beat” is that people flock to good news just as much as the bad. They want to know there’s still positivity going on outside the realm of this “oh so tragic, oh so falling apart world of ours” we see daily on the 6:00 evening news.
Sometimes you just have to give the people what they want, and what they want more than ever these days is the good.
I’m happy to give it to them.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.