I’m probably not the only person to experience a perspective shift and a greater appreciation for things I miss during the pandemic. After months of isolation and not traveling, I realized that our virtual world — where everything but the most essential in-person tasks are done by email, phone calls, and Zoom meetings — makes us feel like we are getting the real experiences in life, but doesn’t give us any of the real substance of being there.
What The Big Players Do
The big companies that want to build millions of EVs know that remote learning won’t really teach (and as a mom, I know this now).
Before the pandemic, they could have just as easily put out a YouTube video and then put some copy and photos on the press section of the website. That would have certainly been cheaper, and all of what seems to be the relevant information would still get to the public. That’s exactly what they did during the pandemic.
In reality, though, comparing, say, the release of the Mustang Mach-E in 2019 with the recent release of the F-150 Lightning, there’s no comparison. None at all. Getting to see the car, the people who developed it, and the event in person all comes together to give a much better experience that gives you a lot more to write about. So much, in fact, that even in a two-person team, we still couldn’t cover it all. That experience, the richness of that experience, helps those who inform the public to better relay not just information, but ideas to the public.
That’s why automakers spend big, big bucks flying in journalists from around the country and around the world, putting them in nice hotels, and putting together a really nice party. Instead of going cheap, they make sure they get the most bang for their bucks by not skimping.
And their stories not only get told, but become legends that people talk about at the dinner table.
We’re Really Missing Out
Not everyone has the marketing budget companies like Volkswagen Group, Ford, GM, and even Tesla have (and yes, Tesla does put some real money into its reveals, like anybody else). There are millions of small companies around the world, little car clubs, and enthusiasts putting in big efforts to help the rural world not fall behind the big cities during the cleantech revolution.
These are the people trying to show their neighbors the advantages of EVs, the small solar businesses and rural co-ops trying to get more panels on rural roofs, and the clubs trying to get a small town’s first Level 2 station put in. They’re small dealers, selling used EVs. There’s even a little pizza place I know of that delivers food using EVs, and in the heart of Oil Country.
Sure, we can find out about these efforts, and even get good information, but neither us nor the people with these stories have the money to get journalists out there to get that little story. Even big outlets with budgets aren’t going to spend money on traveling to far-flung places to dig up stories that aren’t high-impact.
The problem is that missing out on all these little stories adds up to something big we’re all missing out on. Those of us in the city need to know that this matters to people out in the countryside, and that everyone out there isn’t hostile to clean technologies like the morons who block charging stations. Those of us following this who don’t live in the cities need to know that we aren’t alone. The rest of the people, city and rural, who haven’t gotten into this, need to know it isn’t all part of city-slicker, communist gay plot to take away the things they enjoy, or the things they’re familiar with.
How We Can Do This
First off, all of us writing and spreading the word about EVs need to start covering more rural stories near us, and we need to be doing it in person more instead of trying to cover it remotely. It’s cool to cover it remotely, but we risk missing out on important details, the feelings and enthusiasm of the people involved, and many other things. We’re social creatures, and we didn’t evolve for this kind of interaction without human contact.
We also need to start looking for ways to make sure more of this gets covered in places where none of us are. If that’s you, be sure to get in touch so we can help each other get these stories covered, even if it’s not me or CleanTechnica covering it.
My Effort In This Area
We all need to be pitching in on this, but my wife and I want to share a special project we are working on. Consider this my elevator pitch, and all I’m asking of you is a Twitter follow.
First Time Here? <Thread>
Hi! My name is @JenniferSensiba, and I set up this special account for a special project. I see that there are many interesting and worthwhile EV and clean technology stories that just don't get told because nobody will cover the travel expenses. 1/10
— Untold EV & Cleantech Stories (@UntoldEVStories) May 8, 2021
Our project, Untold EV & Cleantech Stories, seeks to gather fans interested in this sort of content so we can all collaborate to make sure more of this gets covered, and right here at CleanTechnica. The idea is to get the fans together who are most interested in this kind of work so we can all make it happen.
Ultimately, we need to build a low-emissions mobile newsroom that can travel to all of these places and not only get the information and experience, but photos, video footage, drone footage, and everything else to give the readers the full experience (as much as is possible, anyway). As a storyteller, we can’t do that without knowing the story we are telling. This is long-term thinking, though.
Before we get to any of that, though, we need to build a sub-community of CleanTechnica readers and fans who have a passion or reader interest for this kind of far-flung work. There are some things that money simply can’t buy, and real friends and allies are one of those. Just getting little tips from you all, and asking you to go out and tell me what it’s like as an EV owner with these things would be a great first step!
I look forward to meeting many of you on this new Twitter account!
Featured photo and other photos by Jennifer Sensiba and other CleanTechnica writers.