Thursday, May 31, 2007

National News Observations

Fewer of us are watching the evening newscasts. And the industry is buzzing because Charles Gibson has pulled into first place without all the hype and publicity that heralded Katie Couric's ascension to CBS.

Personally, I tend to watch ABC because our local affiliate's lead in newscast is so strong, and while I'm multi-tasking, I don't take time to go change the channel. But I'm a minority--more people are getting their news from the Internet, cable, or shows that spoof current events.

Charles Gibson did not want to lead the newscast with Jerry Falwell's death a couple of weeks ago. But he devoted lots of time tonight to the new Billy Graham Library. I'm a Billy Graham fan, so I'm not complaining. It just surprised me that Charles was so gentle. He glossed over or did not mention controversies that have followed the career of America's Pastor.

From a soundbite point of view, there are a couple of ways to look at this. If you get to be 88, revered as much as Graham, and someone opens a library for you, you might expect reporters to go easy on you.

Or, maybe national news anchors just like to report features now and then.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Quotes about Journalism

For your enjoyment...

"A journalist is a reporter out of a job." --Mark Twain

"I have spent half my life trying to get away from journalism, but I am still mired in it--a low trade and a habit worse than heroin, a strange seedy world full of misfits and drunkards and failures." --Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

"If a person is not talented enough to be a novelist, not smart enough to be a lawyer, and his hands are too shaky to perform operations, he becomes a journalist." --Norman Mailer

"[Journalism] is full of lying, cheating, drunken, cocaine-sniffing, unethical people. It's a wonderful profession." --Piers Morgan, Daily Mirror

"The way I had it is all gone now. The bars are gone, the drinkers, gone. There remain the smartest, healthiest newspeople in the history of the business. And they are so boring that they kill the business right in front of you." --Jimmy Breslin, columnist, 1996

Monday, May 28, 2007


Holidays like today are typically slow news days. So they're good days to be pro-active and pitch your story ideas. For a federal holiday that falls on a Monday, like Memorial Day, President's Day or Labor Day, you might even want to pitch your story to assignment editors (the title you ask for at TV and radio stations) or the assignments desk (the title for newspapers) on the Friday before.

If you have a tie-in to the holiday itself, so much the better. For instance, maybe you have an employee who just returned from Iraq and your company is going to throw a party for him or her today. Or for July 4th, find out if any of your organization's members are getting their citizenship.

Reporters love "feel-good" stories at these times of the year. There's a silver lining: they can do the piece on you, meet their deadline and get home in time for the cookout.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Do You Have a Media Policy?

Media policies can guide your organization and its members or employees to know what to do when a reporter calls.

Here is a simple template that you can adapt for your needs.

(Name of organization) wants to inform reporters of all newsworthy events. Our policy is one of openness. To control rumors or premature information that may unfairly affect our employees, customers, or revenues--and to ensure reporters get the most accurate information, as well as access to the most appropriate sources--we require that journalists contact our (title of person who serves as spokesperson) for any media inquiries.

Employees are asked to share this policy if they receive calls or messages from the news media. Please direct reporters and photographers to our (title of person who serves as spokesperson or media relations director). You can reach (him/her) at (phone numbers--include cell) or by e-mail at (e-mail address.)