Thanks, Obama #37 #cong19

Synopsis:

Newspapers are all about community because they reflect our lives by being made up of citizens of those same communities. Journalism also engenders a sense of community among a particular paper’s staff given their shared goal of being as informative as possible to their readership.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. I’ve been fascinated with communities near and far since I was a kid… hence my interest in journalism.
  2. Being a journalist often conveys privileges such as literally getting a front row seat to history (see photo within article). But it’s the day-to-day coverage of events within communities large and small that really make the profession worthwhile… such as my job at The Salt Lake Tribune.
  3. I can’t tell you how damaging the use of the words “fake news” by authoritarian figures are to my profession… and our wider society.
  4. Thankfully, some authority figures do understand that a free press is one of the key pillars of a functioning democracy.

About Brian Mac Intyre:

Brian has spent three decades working as a storyteller in various forms.

He has been a reporter and sub-editor at a host of Irish national newspapers.

In addition, he lived in the United States for 12 years where he worked for The Associated Press in Little Rock, Arkansas and The Salt Lake Tribune.

He also spent time as a broadcast journalist and radio researcher writing scripts for top RTE presenters… and appearing on air occasionally himself.

He is also a corporate trainer, pitching coach and content marketer with his consultancy firm StoriesforBiz.com.

He has a BA in Economics and Politics (TCD), a Masters in Journalism (DCU) a Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing (Digital Marketing Institute) and an MA in Screenwriting (National Film School at IADT).

Contacting Brian Mac Intyre::

You can reach Brian by email.

By Brian Mac Intyre

Community literally means the world to me.

I’ve always been fascinated with what makes people tick… whether they’re nearby, or living far, far beyond our borders.

My keen interest in the globe’s daily comings and goings… i.e. news… started when I was a schoolboy, and it was fed as soon as I got home from classes.

I would spread The Irish Times on the carpet of our TV room and scan its headlines. I also used to collect Time magazines when historic events occurred, such as a new US president being elected.

I knew I wanted to go into journalism. And I had no idea at the time what a sense of community it would give me.

But I wanted a fallback too, so I decided to study Economics and Politics in college, given they’re what make the world go round… ie they help build functional communities.

I had a big interest in other countries’ politics too, especially Britain and the United States.

I remember watching Ronald Reagan being sworn in as US president in 1980. In part, it was a fascination with whether or not Iran would release US hostages held in Tehran at the time for 444 days.

The Iranians did so… right after Reagan was sworn in so that his predecessor Jimmy Carter couldn’t claim it as a diplomatic victory.

So I was part of a worldwide community of interested citizens watching events from afar.

And I never imagined that nearly 30 years later I’d be sitting in the front row for another Inauguration to witness the first African-American to take the same oath of office. In fact, I took this photo there. And Obama, of course, started out as a community organiser himself.

But that’s one of the privileges of being part of a community that gets to witness events as they unfold, some of them quite historic indeed.

In my nearly three decades in journalism I’ve gotten to cover the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games and even interview film stars such as Martin Sheen and Cameron Diaz, among others.

And throughout that time I’ve always felt a strong sense of community with fellow journalists, even from rival papers.

We’re all on a mission to inform readers, listeners or viewers of what happened in their world today… because knowing what’s happened in the past will make them better equipped to navigate the future. That’s because stories are all about solving problems, and thereby surviving.

The time I most felt a sense of togetherness and shared struggles was when I worked at The Salt Lake Tribune for nine years (1996-2005).

It was easily the best newspaper job I ever had simply because you felt you were really helping make a difference… in the community.

Our main competition, the Deseret News, was owned by the Mormon Church, while the Trib was owned by an Irish-American Catholic family (for part of my tenure).

And even though it was a majority-Mormon state, the Trib, which styled itself as “Utah’s Independent Voice”, sold twice as many copies as the Deseret News.

Our readers, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, appreciated our independence and, as a result, the paper was largely respected within the wider community.

That’s because, like everyone who works in media, we were part of the community too, with the same wants, needs, gripes, frustrations etc as everyone else.

But this is a fact that’s often forgotten… newspaper people really do care about the communities they live in and want them to perform optimally for as many people as possible.

But one thing that’s deeply damaging to our global media community in recent years is when authoritarian leaders undermine it by calling stories they don’t like “fake news”. It undermines the whole profession and is a deeply disturbing trend.

And Barack Obama, for all his faults, many of which he’d admit to himself, recognised this fact.

Although he brought a host of prosecutions against whistleblowers and leakers, he did make a point of standing up for the media in his last press conference at the White House.

He said: “You’re not supposed to be sycophants — you’re supposed to be skeptics. And having you in this building has helped this place work better.”

According to New York magazine: “The president suggested that the media’s persistent scrutiny of his reaction to crises such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the BP oil spoil had made his administration more responsive to the needs of the public.”
The magazine then quoted him saying: “So America needs you, and our democracy needs you.”

So thanks, Obama… for standing up for my community.
And all of our communities as a result.

The Story Behind Big Ideas #37 #cong18

Synopsis:

Stories spark ideas because they’re about problems that must be solved. So if you’re looking for that next big idea, figure out what the world needs fixing.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. “There are no bad ideas, just poor execution.”
  2. Stories and ideas have a symbiotic relationship.
  3. Problem. Idea. Solution. That’s literally the story of our lives.
  4. The truth about fish and chips… for batter or worse.

About Brian Mac Intyre:

Brian Mac Intyre is a journalist and screenwriter. He also owns StoriesforBiz.com, which helps companies make better connections with clients, customers… and even their own staff. In addition, he coaches start-ups in how to harness the incredible power of storytelling for great investor pitches.

Contacting Brian Mac Intyre:

You can contact Brian by email and see his work on StoriesforBiz.com

By Brian Mac Intyre

It’s 2011 and I’m at the Dublin International Film Festival where I see Irish crime fiction writer John Connolly sitting two seats away from me.

Given the chance, I like to pick a creative person’s brain to find out what golden nuggets of wisdom I just might learn from them.

So I introduced myself as a fellow journalist (Connolly had worked at The Irish Times) and soon enough we got onto the subject of ideas and what makes a good one.

Journalists usually have a pretty sound idea of what makes a good story.

So I asked him: “But what if your idea’s just bad in the first place?”

And he said something I’ll never forget: “There are no bad ideas, just poor execution.”

Ten million copies later, he should know.

But his quote, I hope, also illustrates the symbiotic relationship between stories and ideas. That’s because they’ve both got to do with problem solving.

Stories are usually about people with problems. In the world of film, for example, Luke is trying to defeat the Evil Empire, ET is attempting to phone home… and the Muppets will do whatever it takes to save Christmas.

So the survival, or existence, of someone or something is always at stake. And these are problems all these people need to solve… by having a good idea of how to fix them.

Long, long ago, when the first of our forebears was eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger, you can be pretty certain the rest of the tribe immediately learned to avoid big cats.

But given their main problem was survival – as it is for all of us – then you can also bet that at least one of them had the brainwave to go hunting when their prey was resting.

Problem. Idea. Solution. It’s a pattern that endlessly repeats itself over time.

For instance, it’s commonly held that fish and chips were invented by the British. But in this case a ‘one and one’ does not, in fact, equal two.

Without fried fish, this combo just wouldn’t be the same. And it turns out this part of the epicurean equation was invented by Jews fleeing religious persecution in 15th century Portugal.

Many of those Sephardic Jews, who relocated to England, took with them culinary treasures, one of which was Peshkado frito, commonly known as cod or haddock fried in flour.

It had to be fried on the Friday night in preparation for the Sabbath as cooking was banned on Saturday under the Mosaic laws.

It’s thought the batter preserved the fish so that it could be eaten cold the next day without compromising the flavour. Problem. Idea. Solution.

In another context, 40 years ago, American management consultant Marilyn Loden was taking part in a panel discussion about women’s aspirations in the workplace.

She noticed that the female panelists focused on how women behaved in a self-deprecating way and allegedly carried a poor self-image.

She recalls that it was a struggle for her to sit quietly as these criticisms were being aired.

While she agreed that it was hard for women to progress beyond middle management level, she said there were invisible barriers to their advancement that had everything to do with culture, and nothing to do with personal issues.

So she coined a phrase for this on the spot, calling it an “invisible glass ceiling”. And she said this was the main reason there weren’t more female CEOs.

That idea, partly sparked from the story of her own experience on that panel, has proven to be one of the most talked about ever since.

And finally, going back to films, some can ignite ideas that literally make the world a better and safer place for all of us.

In Stanley Kubrick’s satire Dr Strangelove, a mad general sparks a path to nuclear holocaust that politicians and other generals must try to stop.

In a key scene, one character uses a payphone to call the Pentagon to provide them with access codes, but doesn’t have enough change. He fails to contact them… resulting in nuclear annihilation.

That scene was later screened for the US Congress who collectively thought it raised real worries about communication blocks during a crisis.

There and then they decided that access codes to nuclear weapons should not be limited to just one federal official.

So if you’re looking for that next big idea, find a problem to solve first.