Tuesday, December 18, 2012



The few successes I have had in dealing with the media occurred when I did not wait for a historically-challenged journalist to write something inaccurate and offensive. We have demonstrated we are very capable when we do call out the paper and electronic tigers to come to our defence, but there is a better way.

          When I issue a “News Release” on some point of history or culture it usually gets printed in the newspaper, often unedited and usually without a counter argument. Once journalists place their name on their articles they must defend what they have written or lose credibility. Their writing is their source of income, so they have more immediately at risk than you do. Your response to them is just as a volunteer and in a way you have less invested and at risk in the discussion. You have something to win, but they have won already by being paid for their opinion. When you counter punch their point you immediately place them on the defensive whether their articles are accurate or not. This is a losing tactic.

          I have seen hundreds of great responses to dumb stuff that found its way in print. When your defensive response is too good the editor can choose to not print your written effort, or they may just edit the life and heart out of what you wrote resulting in making your dedicated effort just hallow venting and catharsis resulting in you having wasted your time.

         When you are active and take the initiative, rather than being reactive and pinging-off of some politically correct but inaccurate view of history or heritage, you have worked-up a head of steam and are offended by something they wrote. You are on the defensive before you write the first word. Chances are that you will not be able to gain control of the agenda on that topic by being able to define and frame the focus of the topic.

        The person who gets to initially choose the field of battle and “frame the issue” has the argument 98% won before the argument can even begin as a two-way dialogue. The journalist is trying to informative and do his job. This is his livelihood.

        The journalist may not know much about history, but usually they are  professional writers and they begin with the advantage. They have
1) taken the initiative,
2) chosen the topic,
3) applied their professional writing skills to make a point,
4) are a trusted source for that newspaper,
5) narrowed and focused the issue under examination,
6) defined and framed the "tone" of the issue, and
7) placed you on the defensive thus giving them a great advantage.

They have made you play their game on their ground by their rules. At this point your heritage or historical defence must work MUCH HARDER to win the point. Just like tennis there is a great advantage for you to be the “server” in the game.

          Remember, the newspapers want good articles and good writers and they want to sell newspapers. You will have to work harder because the newspapers usually have a politically biased point of view. So, improve your writing skills. Take the initiative. Frame your presentation in your favour. Write them often, and be there first with the most and the best presentations.

  Tim Manning

No comments:

Post a Comment