September 17, 2014

I probably should have told you this much earlier, but it is important to look at the needs of a campaign. Have the ability to understand the roles of all the players. Use your abilities and learn about others.

For example, while I was an English major in college, I took a course in Journalism. Was I going to be a reporter? No. So why take it? I learned how the profession of reporting news works. I know that there are deadlines, sourcing rules, production limitations, and their professional ethics. In short, I learned their rules and how they are supposed to do their jobs.

Where does this help? Well, if you learn about deadlines, you will not get a release out that misses one. The reporter will know that you understand his or her plight. The worst move is to give a reporter who is a big story.

Deadlines can also be used to place news. Do this. Learn and understand the idea of media bias and work within the framework, usually topic by topic. Do not give the story out to one source before the other, but if you know the deadlines, you can drop the story for better placement.

I love to tell my old war story related to the errant moose in Rhode Island in 1985 or so. I was on the Warren School Committee and was somewhat at odds with the reporting by the Providence Journal. At that time, there was a wayward moose that had come south and was hanging in Cranston. The Journal had, somewhat idiotically, made a promotion of it by offering money for the first picture of the moose.

People were actually stopping in dangerous places to get this photo. My idea, get a set of antlers and take photos. It was a simple exercise, but it had a secondary purpose.

I knew that the Journal wanted the photo. I also knew from the operations of the paper, they had a large Sunday circulation. I knew that they put the paper to bed on Saturday at about 10:00 PM. I also knew that they only had a color photo lab in house.

I shot a roll of black and white with me and my antlers in a corn field, in front of a kid’s blackboard with a pointer, and a few other spots. I then ran into the Fountain Street headquarters for the Journal at about 7:00 on a Saturday night, telling the guard that I think I have the photos of the moose. I left the roll of black and white.

LESSON TEN: IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO TAKE A JOURNALISM 101 COURSE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT AND WHAT YOU WILL BE ASKED. MAKE THE MEDIA’S JOB AS EASY AS POSSIBLE. DON’T CALL UNLESS IT IS REALLY A NEWS STORY OR EVENT. AS IN ALL REPORTING, REMEMBER THE BASICS IN GIVING INFORMATION – WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY AND SOMETIMES HOW. IF YOU HAVE GIVEN THIS INFORMATION YOU MIGHT GET MENTION EVEN IF THE REPORTER DOES NOT COVER THE EVENT. DON’T WASTE THE MEDIA’S TIME. THEY OWE YOU LITTLE AND SO DON’T COMPLAIN UNLESS YOU ARE EGREGIOUSLY INJURED BY THE COVERAGE OR YOU WANT TO TAKE ON A MEDIA MEMBER.

DEMAND CORRECTIONS WHEN THERE IS AN ERROR. DO IT IN WRITING. KEEP A COPY. YOU WILL PROBABLY NEVER SEE A CORRECTION, BUT IT IS ON RECORD. CORRECTIONS ARE MOSTLY MEANINGLESS ANYWAY. DON’T FRET OVER THE SMALL STUFF. ONLY DEMAND CORRECTIONS WHEN THE ERROR RELATES TO THE MEAT OF THE MATTER.

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