I have been reading and thinking about the discussion on the recent CBC story and share the frustrations that many have with media in Canada or America who just don’t seem to get the narrative right (from our POV) when it comes to US Expat citizenship taxation, Voluntary Disclosure programs, or offshore accounts issues (FATCA). It is very hard for us as individuals to get Journalist or Editors attention, have them adopt our narratives, and only occasionally do we have minor success on the fringes like here and here.
I wished I had the magic answer, or some profound insight as how to solve this problem. We must recognize that even organizations like ACA who have been at this for years and years have a hard time getting MSM attention on their many efforts. However, I would like to venture a suggestion of another painful drudgery (I am into drudgery) that can bear fruit….
Roger Conklin is an example of this with his success in getting a WSJ letter to the editor posted both on the web and added in the print addition. I was amazed that he was able to get the attention of the Editors of a well respected national paper that is read by many policy makers and people of influence in the US. Was this a fluke, special eloquence, or something simpler…… persistence?
What many of you don’t know, is that in spite his years, and his personal difficulties at home, he is persistence with his writing and commenting at major US new media, like the Wall Street Journal. I have been following those comments for quite some time now. In fact that is how I discovered him and encouraged him to come over to Isaac Brock Society and make some comments here. Renouceuscitizenship, picked up on his back ground and highlighted his perspective in the post titled US Citzenship based taxation harms US Economy .
I have noticed how through the persistence of his civil commentary on any article even remotely addressing trade and tax policy, that there are more and more commentators responding to him and picking up or confirming his themes.
Here is the lastest example of the comment thread that is running on the current WSJ article called Fade in China, Made in America. Start reading the comments from a day ago from Arron Brown.
Consistent Talking Point
I would venture the thought, that it is Roger’s persistence in repeating the export job loss and trade deficit angle over and over and over again in the comment sections is why the WSJ responded to his letter to the editor and decided to publish it over the hundreds of other letters they must receive. In addion, just like a politician with a “Talking Point“, Roger hammers home consistently on the theme that the US citizenship model is damaging on US Trade policy, creates US Trade deficits and hurts export jobs created in the homeland.
That is a theme, talking point if you like, that resonates more in the US media, than our perceived whinging about the unfairness of the IRS tax jihad that is directed against homeland tax cheats and evaders, but impacts us instead. It is hard to get any attention or sympathy out of self-centered Americans, (or Canadians) who I would venture a guess, don’t care about our problems unless it is perceived to be harming them. Then it gets their attention.
Non partisan civility and echo chambers
In this day and age of partisan politics with hyperbolic blogs, and name calling commentary on the web, I think we have to recognize that to reach outside our blog, you have to be perceived as non partisan and have a civil presentation. I fail at that all the time! Grrrr me.
We have to be honest with ourselves, and recognize that our blog here, is a bit of an echo chamber. Even with it’s ever increasing readership, and sometimes spirited but civil disagreements, we have to find ways to reach outside it better to get the infamous “Lame Stream Media’s” attention. (Can’t believe I am going to use a Palin quip, but it works! )
I don’t have the answers on how to do this best. I am not a media consultant, didn’t play one in a movie, nor am I especially astute or insightful when it comes to these things. What I do try to do is observe what seems to “work”, and then try that over and over and over. Right now, I have been observing Roger’s comment model of a defined talking point, a targeted media outlet like the WSJ, and his persistent facts and figures presentation which has an even, civil tone.
In some ways, maybe we need a media consultant to help us fine tune our message for the press. We need a consistent Talking Point that works. We need a Frank Luntz amongst us to help us with the key language of our message. Anger and passions works sometimes to generate attention, but I think we have to also look at the role of persistence, use of key language, well structured talking points plus civility if you want get a message into the MSM media.
We may or may not like it, but “pro-life” and “death tax” are examples of deliberate language choices made by activist to better shape a message that a certain group wants in the public debate. It works. I am not sure what works for us, but even the term US Expat may be the wrong language for self identification if it triggers the wrong response in the hearer. If it conjures up an image of someone slightly exotic, rich, devious tax evader and/or non patriotic, then it fails. Victoria has eloquently discussed the perceptions vs the actual in Day in the life of the US Emigrant
Since Isaac Brock doesn’t really have a media arm or an over arching media strategy, it is upon us individually to experiment with many things even if the first efforts are imperfect and not finally tuned. Try something, and if it doesn’t work, incrementally adjust it and try again. There are many resources these days in our interconnected world that we can use. This blog is one of the excellent ones, but old style letters and emails, new style social media (even though personally, I hate facebook), and seemingly trivial 140 character Twitter tweets can have effect. (I am still experimenting with it.) There are other internet sites like Reddit, which many media use now to find hot topics, so I have started to experiment there too. I decided last night to post the CBC story there and observe what does or not happen. Not a huge success, but there are 11 likes, and 1 dislike so that is 12 more people outside our echo chamber that now know something about the subject and would never have found the story without that post.
I am sure there are many many other information sharing avenues out there. I haven’t been putting a lot of time into finding them, but I probably should. It may take 1000 of them, before one gets real attention or yields positive results, but that brings us back to the persistence angle. The drudgery of persistence.
Like I have said, I am into drudgery as it overcomes my many other inadequacies, and heaven knows I have my share of them. I may not have personal connections. I may not be politically correct. I may not be a good lobbyist. I may not have an expert knowledge base. I may not be eloquent, or I maybe too wordy with what I write. We all have our individual weakness, and in spite of mine, Drudgery is something I can do. And boy do I do it! It can over come a lot of short falls. You just have to tediously try over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Keep throwing things up against the wall until you find something that sticks, and then repeat it.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.
Now, none of this has yet resulted in the type of media narrative that Wondering has suggested, but it is something to ponder. I welcome more comments, observations, suggestions and criticisms from many of the fine minds that contribute here. Let’s learn from each other how to be more effective in our fragmented media outreach and maybe use this thread as a medium to share what is working or not working from each of our efforts.