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Media: Missing the story that's in front of your eyes

Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 12:27:26 -0500
From: David Floyd <>

Mr. Atlee-

Back in September, I was contacted by a Boston NBC affiliate, Channel
7 News. They had found my web site through the Cassandra Project. They
were interested in doing a story on survivalist communities and
individuals who were preparing for Y2K. At the time, I was strictly
involved in disseminating information, in the form of brochures, the
web site, etc. The journalist I initially spoke with was hoping that I
had something visual that they could film (a pile of freeze-dried
food, water barrels, perhaps a closet full of guns ;) ) "What you're
doing would make a good newspaper article," she said."But this is

I explained to her at that time that there were many stories contained
within the Y2K crisis, and that I was concerned about them taking the
sensationalist approach, covering only the (at that time) fringe
activities geared toward individual preparedness. I told her that if I
was a viewer hearing about Y2K for the first time, and my introduction
to the topic was seeing groups and individuals storing food, ammo,
generators, and heading for the hills, my tendency would be to dismiss
Y2K as the paranoia of a bunch of "survivalist nuts." She wasn't too
interested in my shpiel about community work, the at-risk populations,
and journalistic responsibility. She politely thanked me for my time,
and said she might be contacting me again.

About a month later, the same journalist contacted me again, but this
time because I was the TEAM leader for Rhode Island in an internet
networking project started by Bruce Beach, who has developed a
community and individual preparedness database that now includes every
state. She hadn't recalled that I was the sermonizing Y2K evangelist
that she had encountered a month previous, until we spoke again. She
was still working on the same story, and was ready to politely hang up
once she realized who I was, but I told her that I now had more
photogenic potential, having recently stacked two cords of firewood,
obtained a big food order, and some food-grade storage drums.

She brought a cameraman and an on-camera reporter,and they filmed at
my house for close to three hours. There were many shots centered
around me and my "stuff", and then the reporter interviewed me for
about 30 minutes on-camera. The end result was a sensationalist piece
much the same as a multitude of others that have been produced since,
complete with ominous music, punchy editing showing all of the
"unlikely" scenarios, and a couple of tiny sound bites from me and
others taken out of context. Capers Jones and the director of the
Center for Millenial Studies ("Nobody really knows") were also
included. The concluding message: this Millenium Fever is being fueled
by the internet, and there is no need to worry because Massachusetts
and other states have contingency plans in place.

I have been leery since then, and did not respond when Time and
Newsweek were looking for subjects for their Y2K survivalist stories.
I have sent press releases describing the Rhode Island prep group's
activities to area newspapers and broadcast networks, with little
interest. One local affiliate ran a feed from the network on Y2K
commerce, and the frenzy surrounding survivalist goods."If anyone is
saying 'You need to prepare for Y2K', they are probably trying to sell
you something.." I called the station and told the reporter that there
were non-profit Y2K activities right here in Rhode Island. He took my
name and information, but I have not been contacted since.

I at this point question how to utilize the media in all this. I have
recently become friends with a photographer from a Hartford newspaper
who pitched and got approval on doing a Y2K pictorial feature. He is
alone among his colleagues in that he and his wife are actively
preparing, and he says the vibe he is getting from his boss in
response to his enthusiasm and concern about the big picture amounts
to: "Just do your research and don't bother me." He can't deny that he
is feeling somewhat isolated, and like many of us, longs for the day
when the majority of people actually "get it."

Progress is being made as individuals and communities gradually wake
up to the fact that this is different than anything we have ever
faced, that it is pervasive and not easily written off. The media,
even with clumsy efforts and myopic approaches to the problem has
placed Y2K within the field of vision of the general public. So this
has ultimately helped the grassroots efforts immensely. I love your
idea of working with the journalists' higher selves in a call for
objectivity and new insights; and it's a comfort to know that
corporate heads and government officials also have higher selves
(or so I'm told). Seriously, I truly believe that much of the great
work in this area is being done quietly, even silently, as we have
no choice but to call upon inner resources to see us through this
challenge. And obviously, a global change of this magnitude is working
on all of us already, and probably has been for some time, regardless
of our outer awareness.

Thank you for all of your incredible work. I have a link to your site
at ours, at under Church and Community
Preparations. I hope that is okay.

David Floyd
Y2K Prepared Rhode Island