Thoughts On Press

Consider the graphic above, representing the spectrum of Oberlin-generated stories that may interest the media.

C represents the stories that are 100% positive - the ones we hope the whole world will hear about, the ones we implore the New York Times to cover. Examples include the SEED House story.

A represents the stories that may be newsworthy, but are negative, or subject to significant misinterpretation or misunderstanding outside of the context of Oberlin. These are the stories that we're far less enthusiastic about seeing in the press.

B was one of the many topics of discussion at today's senior staff retreat. I brought it up because B represents the largest part of the spectrum - it's the area where elements of A and C are intertwined and can't be separated. Historically, Oberlin has been hesitant to promote stories that fall in the B range because of the presence of A in them. I'd like to see us adopt a different perspective: embrace these stories, and focus on the presence of C in them.

I used the Louis Black Oberlin Tour video as an example. Sure, there's some edgy stuff in there, but at the end, you have a world-famous comedian saying "if you guys out there want to go to a place where you're going to end up truly being an individual, then this is the place to go, and that's no bullshit."

This is not the sort of thing we should shy away from.

More to come... in the meantime, enjoy the video.

Responses To This Entry:

I like B. C is being dishonest about who we are. In a time with Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert, we're ready (and well equipped) to ridicule and (even worse) dismiss one-sided spinning "This isn't smog in the air, it's just the palpable excitement of everyone here to celebrate the Olympics. The air is thick with happiness!"

That, and it'd be nice if institutions that are granting degrees (essentially saying "this person is smart") would also have faith in students' intellects to understand that while the institution isn't perfect, it does a lot of things right.

A modern car goes forward AND in reverse. And that proves my point. Somehow.

Posted by: Colin on August 21, 2008 6:40 PM

It's interesting that most Obies saw the SEED story as positive; it also reinforced a negative stereotype.

Posted by: Tevi on August 23, 2008 1:45 PM

You've got to be kidding. Not use this??? I hadn't seen it before, but imho you can't pay for this kind of publicity. It may make some uncomfortable, but those aren't the ones we want in our classes -- the ones who can't tell irony from Iceland. Bring it on!

Posted by: Steve on August 23, 2008 4:40 PM