FMC Launches: An Auspicious Start
As Eytan and I pulled off California’s Highway 5 and into Redding, the dark clouds that had unleashed sheets of rain on my heavily loaded Subaru wagon broke up. Out of a gash in the clouds and through still heavy rain, dazzling sunlight spilled onto the road. Behind, a full rainbow breached the wide, churning Sacramento River.
It was an auspicious start to what we think a promising trip. The stop in Redding, like the rainbow itself, was a clear reminder that we are on the right path with this whole Fostering Media Connections adventure.
A few days prior to setting off on the three-day drive that would take us north to Seattle, I received a call from Trisha Coder, News Director of the CBS affiliate in Chico. Coder was completing a series of stories about the foster care system and had come across a piece I had written about the proliferation of Foster Family Agencies in rural California in October of last year.
Coder asked if I was ever in the Redding area, because she wanted to interview me about what I had written. Coincidentally I would be, I responded.
Then I explained why. I was starting an odyssey across the country, where I would test out a theory: that a heavy dose of “solution-based journalism” devoted to the foster care system would drive the public and political will needed to see it fixed.
Currently, foster care’s overarching narrative is that of a failing system. I am betting that if the more accurate story of a system peopled with human beings working tirelessly and achieving incredible change was widely enough dispersed, the general public would want to be a part of that change.
I am fully aware that such a shift in perception is a daunting task. One that will hinge on other journalists’ ability to carry that message of hope for vulnerable children to the wider public. But as I spoke to Coder, I was immediately buoyed.
She was deeply immersed in a series about a spate of child deaths. Despite the harshness of the material, she was trying her best to communicate an accurate picture of how tragedies like this occur. To accomplish this she wanted to know what solutions were out there, what the system was doing to improve. Media-shy, and for good reason, the Children’s Bureau had refused to speak to her reporters.
This left me with the duty of giving some context. The beautiful thing was Coder’s insistence on understanding both the negatives and the positives. Journalists want the full picture, when they get it, the system and the kids they serve will be rewarded for it.
When I saw the questions Coder had prepared for me, they were all about Fostering Media Connections. Before we had even left California, we had a real chance at communicating something positive and honest about foster care.
Now we are in Seattle and today the hard work of finding the stories that speak to not only the problems, but more importantly the solutions begins.
Fostering Media Connections (FMC) is a project of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). FMC harnesses the power of journalism and media to drive public and political will behind policy and practice that improve the well-being of children in foster care.