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A Reporter's Mindset

By Al Rothstein

The people I train to deal with the media ask me a lot of questions about how reporters think. Here are some of those questions, some answers and recommendations.

Q - What is a reporter's job?

A - A reporter wants to "get the story" and communicate it factually to the audience. In doing so, the reporter must paint a picture in the most interesting way.

What you can do - During an interview your role is also that of a communicator, and you too must paint a vivid picture to your audience. Facts and figures don't always do this effectively. Finding the human element does.

Q - Why does a reporter always seem to want controversy?

A - A reporter wants to find the existing controversy in a story, if there is one, and find the solution.

What you can do - When you are being interviewed, show why you are part of the solution.

Q - Why does a reporter interview me for 30 minutes, and use ten seconds?

A - A reporter is looking for interesting, catchy sound bites.

What you can do - You can help control the outcome by making your answers short and to the point.

Q - Why does the reporter come into the story with his/her mind made up?

A - The best reporters do not do this. For those who do, it depends upon the story, the reporter's background, and the reporter's sources.

What you can do - If it appears that a reporter has his/her mind made up, challenge them and correct them immediately!

Q - Why does the reporter who covers our beat never get it right?

A - Sometimes we are to blame when a story is inaccurate. When we refuse to do an interview or don't give the reporter enough time, we can't expect the reporter to understand our side.

What you can do - Use media encounter as opportunities to educate the reporter. Back up what you say with documentation.

Q - We send out press releases. Why don't reporters respond?

A - Your news is not always a reporter's news.

What you can do - Keep in mind that a lot of others in your position are fighting for air time. You must learn how to sell you story to the media, and make it stand out.

Remember that reporters have a job to do. If you help the reporter, you are really helping yourself. You will have more control over how your message is delivered.


Keep in Mind:
1. Paint a picture.
2. Be a part of the solution.
3. Correct inaccuracies.
4. Document your statements.
5. Stand out!

Courtesy of Al Rothstein Media Services, Inc.,
specialists in spokesperson training and media relations seminars.
Phone: 1-800-453-6352