Thursday, October 5, 2017

I still hate press conferences

I HATED PRESS conferences as a reporter. You felt like you were being herded like sheep. It was a totally controlled and staged environment. I understood why they had to take place, and I dutifully arrived with my notebook, asked a few questions, got what I needed and got out as fast as I could.

There were different kinds of press conferences, of course. One was for an event, like a United Way goal announcement or breaking ground for a new building, or somebody running for office announcing he or she was going to to change the world.

If Quincy was a bigger market, I'd open my own PR firm and teach various organizations and businesses how to conduct press conferences, how to curry favor with the press, and how to react when the media approaches. It requires common sense, not a bunch of howling about fake news or #fakenews. You can't always steer the coverage, but you can build rapport and trust and it pays off in the long run.

The other kind of press conference is reactionary. An awful event took place, and the chief of police or fire chief didn't want to do a bunch of interviews. So the media was invited and the chief gave one statement, and we ran from there.

Two press conferences yesterday made me realize how much I don't miss them. One was in Carolina, when Panthers QB Cam Newton stuck his foot in his mouth and degraded a woman reporter. Grow the bleep up. Cam. I know it isn't easy being the face of the franchise and having to deal with all the questions all the time, but I have little sympathy for an immature brat of an athlete who doesn't get that women understand sports and can be reporters.

Last night Las Vegas law enforcement and FBI officials briefed the press on the latest developments in the Mandalay Bay domestic terrorist attack. Sheriff Joseph Lombardo was awesome, and you could tell the investigation, stress and lack of sleep are taking a toll. You can watch it here.

Toward the end, the sheriff and others grew tired of answering the same question and hearing the same questions asked in three different ways. I've been in these types of press conferences, and there are always two or three idiots who wreck it for us all with dumb questions. The sheriff knew who he was talking to and I guarantee he knows the bad reporters from the good. He was gracious and thanked them all at the end.

You have reporters covering a huge event and desperately trying for a scoop or anything new to boost ratings and readership. You have a sheriff who is at the breaking point and knows why he is there, and is trying his best, but I don't blame him for being short with some of the questions. He did a fantastic job.

We have a right to know. He has the right to conduct an investigation and say what he thinks needs to be said. The two sides collide all the time.

And there's nothing fake about either side.

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