Posts Tagged ‘news’

10 Things I Miss Most About Covering Election Nights As A Reporter

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Media Relations:  10 Things I Miss Most About Covering Election Nights

  • Technical problems we all secretly predicted
  • Watching the carefully thought out newsroom election night game plan quickly disintegrate
  • Being assigned to a new candidate at the last second after conducting weeks of research on another one
  • Wondering what genius decided to assign several crews to work under tight deadlines on the same laptop editor
  • Watching normally cordial co-workers turn on each other when things really start to fall apart
  • Trying to be first on air with a winning candidate only to learn the station has no plans to take me live until next week
  • The growing whispers that the others stations whipped us
  • Trying to figure out how to get 20 employees at a hotel convention room back to the station in only two vehicles
  • Feeling lucky no one chose me to stake out until 1am the big losing candidate hiding behind a closed door
  • Getting a memo in my mailbox praising the night’s efforts as if all went perfectly as planned

Some Of The Silliest Stories I Covered In TV News

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

A neighborhood invaded by unwanted chickens on the loose

Women getting drunk by using tampons soaked in alcohol

A woman cleaning houses topless

A proud adult movie actor complaining that Viagra evened the playing field

Farmers worrying the government might tax them for cows passing gas

A search for a family’s large, lost lizard

Dressing up in a tuxedo and covering an Oscars party at a college

Airing two stories in one night about the fact it did NOT snow as predicted

Visiting a Nevada brothel to investigate whether Arizona should legalize such businesses to collect more taxes

Spending a day at a mall to demonstrate how much free stuff shoppers could get, which included getting my ear pierced at no charge

Media Training: Nothing Personal

Monday, April 15th, 2013

I believe as a reporter it was my responsibility to ask tough questions or at least ones that viewers at home were mumbling to themselves while watching the news. Some people thought these questions reflected my personal views. The fact that my last reporting job was at a Fox station compounded some people’s perceptions.

In today’s environment of partisan journalism, some questions actually reflect the journalist’s personal views. (I hesitate to use the word journalist in the previous sentence because a journalist in reality should be objective.) However I want to believe most partisan journalism is confined to the cable news networks with some exceptions outside that arena. I want to believe most journalists are just asking tough questions because that is their legitimate job.

Don’t take it personally when reporters ask tough questions. Few reporters want anyone to mistake them as a member of a public relations team. Some reporters go overboard and feel obligated to ask tough questions, to dig deeper into a story, even if they’re covering a bake sale.

First, try to learn what reporter will be interviewing you, limiting the chances someone will catch you off guard. Second, understand most journalists are covering news, not conducting an interview for the yearbook. Expect tough questioning and practice for it. Don’t let them see you sweat. Don’t say something sarcastic about the questions. Some journalists are looking for such a reaction. Don’t give it to them. It’s not personal. It’s business, the business of journalism.

Media Relations: Our Post On News Releases

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

10 reasons a reporter will ignore your news release

Click here for the original post.


Media Training: Answering Reporters’ Oddball Audibles

Monday, January 21st, 2013

media training


The psychologist we sent to appear on a morning TV news show did not expect the anchor by her side to start the interview by asking about her plans for Christmas dinner. We scheduled her to speak about relationships, but the anchors had been talking about holiday dinners beforehand. We prepare people for all types of questions, but anticipating one specifically about dinner is a reach.

Many TV anchors have always liked a transition between stories, sometimes no matter how difficult or forced. Some anchors also appreciate starting or ending an interview with a question that reminds us of a party ice breaker. The question might focus on the weather, sports or some other lighthearted current event everyone seems to be chatting about. This type of unpredictable question can throw off a newbie to TV, especially someone practicing and zeroing in so carefully on delivering key messages. And when people hesitate to answer such a question or do so awkwardly, they appear stiff or to lack personality.

When anchors tossed to me for a live shot, they sometimes threw a twist by beginning with a question instead of the more traditional, “Let’s go live to Keith Yaskin with the story.” This type of surprise requires rapid thinking especially when someone is so focused and prepared to begin by saying something else.

Media training should include some off-the-wall, seemingly unrelated questions to ensure you don’t stall. While interviewing a manager during media training, we asked him a question about his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. He offered an analysis worthy of Phil Simms and his thorough answer led to laughter. But his ability to answer our audible and then return to the game plan helps ensure his future interviews will be no joke.

Media Training: 8 Reasons Businesses Fear The Media

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

During media training, participants shared with us these eight negative statements about news media.

  1. Participant worries about journalists twisting or misinterpreting her words.
  2. Participant shares a negative experience with a reporter who never made time for her.
  3. Participant says one reporter acknowledged his management wants to “go after” an aspect of her organization.
  4. Participant asks what motives reporters have when interrupting people trying to answer questions.
  5. Participant has little media experience but considers the prospect terrifying.
  6. Participant considers media intimidating and that they often misrepresent people.
  7. Participant says some reporters consider you guilty until proven innocent.
  8. Participant says some reporters craft facts and omit others.

You Stay Classy! San Diego Organization Said Media Training Helped In The Following 15 Ways

Monday, December 3rd, 2012
  1. Handling reporters who interrupt you before you finish an answer
  2. Adjusting facial gestures that send negative messages to reporters and viewers
  3. Managing questions that make someone animated and furious
  4. Taking more control of interviews
  5. Identifying whom on staff is your best spokesperson and sometimes the best person is unexpected
  6. Honing and getting back to key messages
  7. Needing to tell more anecdotes
  8. Raising very important talking points not previously considered to combat negative news stories
  9. Avoiding answers that validate a reporter’s negative question
  10. Strengthening an argument without unintentionally making a key constituent look bad
  11. Helping to show others that the group’s leaders are real people
  12. Working on not using too many “uhs” and “ums”
  13. Holding back from publicly criticizing critics, opponents or competitors
  14. Discussing with reporters public funding and sensitive financial numbers
  15. Realizing you have personal stories to tell that reporters should hear

Some People Called Our Article Mean-Spirited And Claimed We Have No Idea What We’re Talking About

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Wow! First off, plenty of people liked our article questioning the use of terms such as “media advisory” and “immediate release” on news releases. But others … you would think I wrote a controversial article about taxes, spending and the fiscal cliff. People complain how politicians turn negative and can not respectfully disagree. After reading some of the comments posted about our article, I’m beginning to believe some of the politicians learned such behavior from the public. Several of my critics depicted my attempt at humor as snarky and mean-spirited. I don’t care if you disagree with me, but what drives someone to verbally throw me off the cliff? I don’t dare claim to know the answers about society, but I gather I raised questions about some long-held practices. And instead of some of these PR pros seeing this as an opportunity to question conventional wisdom and at least for a split second consider a change of course, they decided the better approach was to depict me as an empty-headed jerk who must have stolen his awards and graduated by mistake from one of the country’s best journalism schools. But those folks don’t know my story because they didn’t take a few seconds to read it. Hey, the good news is a couple of people I haven’t communicated with in a long time read the article and got back in touch. We exchanged some pleasant emails.

Let Me Tell You Why There’s No Real Media Conspiracy

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Let Me Tell You Why There's No Real Media ConspiracyI have often heard some people argue there’s a media conspiracy to get certain politicians elected or to push certain agendas. Yes, some news organizations have gained reputations for being either liberal or conservative. But I scoff at the idea that multiple news organizations and an invisible underground association of journalists conspire secretly together to get what they want. Why? Because most media are just not that organized. Here are some examples:

Evening producers sometimes assigned me stories they didn’t know the morning show already aired. If the media can’t communicate within the same room, how can they conspire nationally?

When management devises a new plan for delivering the news, they often quietly scrap that strategy weeks later. They couldn’t commit to a lengthy conspiracy.

Many journalists aren’t devoted to a particular political party. They are loyal to anyone offering them free food.

How bad was the communication in some newsrooms? I often emailed people two desks over to ensure I had a record of my words.

For every liberal writer behind the scenes in journalism, there is a well-paid anchor or manager not interested in paying one extra dime in taxes.

Many in media consider themselves an expert in all topics, so a conspiracy would almost certainly implode from within.

Managing a conspiracy would take too much time away from fantasy football and discussing shoes.

Many members would drop out of the conspiracy after learning the schedule didn’t allow a full hour for lunch.

The paperwork alone for filling out time sheets, delivering silly memos and taking care of reimbursements would make a conspiracy financially impossible and too slow to be effective.

Conspiracies don’t work by putting a bunch of people up front and in the public eye just because they have pretty faces.

Media Training: As Romney Learned, A Big, Red Flashing Light Won’t Warn You

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Media Training:  As Romney Learned, A Big, Red Flashing Light Won't Warn YouYou are allowed to make statements that may not be elegant. But assuming no one outside your four walls will hear your words is a dangerous conclusion that can lead to ugly results.

This is basic media training in a modern world where about the only device still unable to record you is a refrigerator. I often stood in front of a camera long before a TV station actually took me live. But while standing and waiting there, I reminded myself to never say anything I wouldn’t want people to hear. I wasn’t yet on live TV, but I was wearing a microphone. Someone somewhere could hear me and simply needed to push a button to record me.

“Don’t say stupid things in any setting because everyone has a camera,” a TV news executive producer told me the day after Romney’s controversial video surfaced.

Despite this, I still saw politicians compile a string of curse words during side conversations while waiting to appear live. Some of the videos on YouTube showing public figures caught unknowingly on camera are legendary.

A big, red flashing light won’t warn you someone is capturing your words. And spreading those words is easier than ever.

Maybe you tell it like it is. That’s OK. Just ensure you really feel the way you do because someone just might share your comments with an unintended audience.