I'm inviting you to be a producer for the day. In other words: Michel wants me to produce a story and I have no ideas that "sparkle" (there, I said it).
So, I want you to tell me what you want to know "more" about the following story.
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Black women have a higher rate of herpes.
Here are some facts I want you to know before you send me your story suggestions:
1) The CDC reports that 48 percent of Black women ages 14 to 49 have the virus that causes genital herpes.
2) The CDC reports that the chances of Black women having herpes are compounded by the possibility that women may be biologically more susceptible to it than men are.
3) Black people are at least three times (39.2 percent) as likely as Whites (12.3 percent) to have herpes simplex virus type 2.
4) Upwards of 80 percent of genital herpes infections in this country are undiagnosed.
5) Herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease in this country. The CDC reports that one in six people in the U.S. has herpes.
Now that you have some statistics, how do we make this segment about more than numbers? Is this a story about one high-risk group — black women; is that the most compelling piece of this story? Or, do you want to know how one in six people you interact with at your job, a restaurant, the dry-cleaners, a potential lover, etc. contracts herpes? And, who should be Michel's guest(s)?
Alright, I've given you some things to think about. Here's the hard part — developing the story pitch.
And, as you're developing your ideas keep the show's charge in mind:
Tell me something else;
Tell me something I didn't know;
Tell me something that questions conventional wisdom;
Tell me something that illuminates what the rest of America thinks, feels, and experiences;
Tell me something that makes me care;
Then tell me more.
Got it? Good.
Did I mention that presenting your story ideas at our editorial table can sometimes feel like going to the woodshed? For instance, if you say "invite a doctor who will give you the stats" (same as those I listed above), then you'll be met with lots of eye rolling and you will be fired! If you write a note saying "Michel should invite a sociologist who can tell us why herpes is affecting more women that live in poverty and lack health care," then there will be a chorus of yawns, and, I will fire you! If you say: "is there a reporter who can give us the who, what, when, where, why and how," you'll be met with blank stares and you will be so FIRED! Oh, and please keep this in mind: suggestions that include a conversation with sex workers (former or current) or clergy members won't go over well either.
I'm excited for you. I bet you have some wonderful ideas for tackling this topic. Talk with some sources (medical community, friends, public health officials, your mama'nem).
Here's a carrot: we may include your name in the credits. You like that? MAKE IT HAPPEN.
As always, thanks for listening. Have a good weekend and we'll tell you more on Monday.