Posted by: marionmbarnes | October 4, 2017

News Engagement: Ramona Tale is Moment of Levity

In light of devastating news in recent days – natural disasters, a mass shooting, political upheaval and even the death of beloved cultural icon – I took note of an unexpected story that was both a flash in the pan of levity and a solid example of media transparency at its most fundamental level.

On Oct. 2, an editor for NPR, Christopher Dean Hopkins, mistakenly posted a cryptic-yet-intriguing chronicle of a character named Ramona on the official Facebook page. Twelve minutes later, it disappeared, and a post apologizing for the mistake, indicating the Ramona tale was meant for a personal page, appeared in its place. Yet unexpectedly, NPR’s Facebook followers clamored for more about Ramona, explaining that on a day of heartbreaking news, the delight they’d experienced when reading about her had been the highlight.

On Oct. 3, hoping to start four people’s days on a lighter note, I shared the story with my sister (33, via text, with emojis), my daughter (17, via Twitter), my coworker (36, via Facebook) and my father-in-law (69, via email). I shared the story with my coworker on Facebook and retweeted it to my daughter. I texted it to my sister, but a lot of the details were lost. My father-in-law didn’t find the story as delightful as I did, but that’s likely due to the sterility email often imparts. Likely it would have been better to tell the story aloud to everyone, so that every nuance could be enjoyed.

As a side note, I thought it was interesting how Hopkins corrected the error. He could have simply removed it, but in the interest of transparency, he explained the circumstances. It gave the news outlet an opportunity to build goodwill toward the brand in the face of a potentially embarrassing situation.

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