Thursday, October 25, 2007

Answer the @#)$(*)&* Question, Please


What are journalists for? Are they to analyze and interpret the news and arbitrate conflicting opinion for the public, or are they to act as mere carriers of other people’s messages?

As part of my employment before I retired, I was given quite extensive training in dealing with the media, as in media relations, by Spaeth Communications, the people who brought you the Swift Boat ads. Google them, they are very good at what they do. As a result of this training, I have become quite cynical when I read or hear public officials explaining actions. I can see that most of the time they follow textbook instructions on answering questions and dodging questions. I know, because I have done the same thing: Answer the question you want asked; tell them what you want them to hear; steer the conversation in the direction you want it to go.

I also notice that it takes a reporter with a sense of history about an area or institution to know what questions to ask and which to follow up on. You got to know where the bodies are buried.

A couple of blogs on our links, Branson, Missouri blogspot and The Turner Report, are having a cross blog discussion on the re-appointment of Peter Herschend to the Missouri State Board of Education and his political contributions to the foremost supporter of vouchers in Missouri, Jane Cunningham and her campaign for a senate seat. It makes for interesting reading, following the comments and blog postings.

As for me, I keep remembering something Herschend said back in 1990 about his "simple diversion": "What's good for the lakes is generally good for us, and vice versa." (Springfield News-Leader, September 25, 1990, page 8E).
Then there is this gem from the December 3, 1990 issue of Amusement Business (a trade publication for amusement parks and other entertainment venues). Herschend had just been appointed to the chair of the government relations committee of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

"So when year round schooling becomes an issue in your state, we have the studies, a history of what year-round schooling is doing," Herschend said.
The association has three functions--to keep the government out of business, aggressively support beneficial legislation and serve as a source of information for the membership.
Key issues facing the eight-member government relations committee include mandated health care, handicapped access laws, child labor laws, minimum wage, overtime pay, and year-round schooling and/or longer schooling.

Read this article.

And you wonder why I am so cynical.

1 comment:

Darin said...

I want to address that article in a full post...good stuff...food for thought for certain.

School schedules have a profoundly affect our economy.

This is true.

The conservative/libertarian perspective (if their are any) focuses on more local control and smaller federal government.

It just doesn't seem to be practiced most of the time.