Monday, March 3, 2008

Behind the scenes at 'Today'

Here I am ten hours ago in the "Today" green room after the show's stylists did my hair and makeup. It's been quite a full day, so I'll turn in early and save the stories for tomorrow evening. In the meantime, there is one thing I would like to share about the "Today" experience.

During the commercial break between the segments of my "Today" appearance, one of the hosts, Natalie Morales, leaned over to her co-host, Hoda Kotb, and told her the show's Web site had gotten a big response to the article I wrote in conjunction with my appearance, which went up the night before. She said the readers were happy that the topic of "sexless dating" ("Today"'s term) was being given a forum. Kotb was impressed.

It reminded me of what Father James Keller, founder of the Christophers, wrote in his classic guide to faith-fueled activism, You Can Change the World. Letter-writing is one of the most powerful things that an individual can do to influence people in power, especially those in the news media, who are always curious to learn what is the word on the street.

Only a tiny percentage of people who read an article, watch a TV show, or listen to a radio show take the trouble to write a letter to the show's producers. Those who work for media outlets realize that each letter they receive potentially represents the views of thousands of consumers.

So, if you'd like to see more faith-friendly views on TV shows like "Today," the thing to do is to write the producers—not just to criticize them, but also to compliment them when they do something positive. I think the compliments are especially important, because if the media outlets are producing something worthwhile, your encouragement will embolden them to continue in that direction. More than that, positive mail provides much-needed backup for producers and editors who are taking creative risks.