You just never know the reaction something will generate. I’m not sure what impressed me more – the original story itself, or the overwhelming response to it.
Community News Commons citizen journalist Denise Campbell submitted a story yesterday that has gone viral, at least from the hyper-local standpoint. You may have read it, along with the rest of Winnipeg.
In case you missed it, Denise happened to be riding the orange and yellow rocket into work at rush hour when one of Transit Tom’s finest drivers quickly and unexpectedly pulled his bus over on Portage Avenue eastbound just before making the turn onto Main Street northbound. The driver noticed what appeared to be a homeless man standing on the sidewalk not wearing any shoes. The driver got off the bus, took off his own shoes and gave them to the man. The driver’s explanation was that he figured the shoeless fellow needed the footwear more than he did. The driver also said that he couldn’t bear the thought of a man going without shoes, especially with the weather turning cold.
As CNC Convener, I thought this was a great story and was happy Denise was willing to share it with the world. Now, for the response!
Within minutes of the article being posted, the item was re-tweeted countless times. Within an hour, the likes on Facebook were climbing fast. Then, Denise was inundated with requests for interviews from local media; TV, radio and print, including CBC, Winnipeg Free Press, CJOB, Global, CTV, Power 97 and many others wanted her to retell the story.
“I am completely overwhelmed,” said Denise.
“Honestly, I didn’t want the attention to be on me but instead on what the driver did because it was just so amazing. I feel like crying.”
Denise certainly didn’t expect her Tuesday to be busy responding to questions from the media.
“Are we so desperate for good news that this little story has generated so much interest?” she asked. “Perhaps if more good news stories were out there, this wouldn’t be seen as such an anomaly.”
It’s impressive how much media coverage this story generated. One radio station asked listeners to phone in and retell their own experiences of either giving or receiving a random act of kindness. It made me think maybe these good deeds aren’t so unusual. Maybe they happen frequently but we just don’t hear about them. At least not until a citizen reporter like Denise happens to be there and decides to tell the rest of us about it. It also made me think of how this story, and others like it, encourage people to do good things for each other.
By this morning, CNC’s original story had garnered 20 thousand Facebook likes (and counting). The comments pouring in from those who have shared this story reveal its impact.
“Now that’s the kind of news we want to read,” says one.
“This motivates the rest of us to do something nice for someone else,” says another.
“This is beautiful, amazing! We could use more people like that bus driver.”
The reaction goes on and on. It seems many of us crave this kind of inspiring story of kindness and generosity; one that acknowledges the human tendency to give love and to be compassionate, reminding us of the importance of paying attention to the world around us and to our fellow human beings.
For her part, citizen reporter Denise Campbell is taking it all in stride as she quickly points out how this is the kind of excitement and interest that citizen journalism can generate.
“This is exactly what Community News Commons is supposed to do,” she said. “Citizens share everyday stories that are meaningful. It really has the capacity to generate a lot of interest and create positive change in our city.”
While most everyone agrees that the bus driver is the hero in this story, my hat goes off to Denise Campbell and her instincts as a citizen reporter, to not only take notice of the world around her but to care enough about it to share it with the rest of our community. It’s this kind of reporting that has the potential to really make a difference.
And it’s the reason Community News Commons was created in the first place.