The Expectations of the News Media and Helping Clients Navigate
By Jason Greenwald
Years ago, as I prepared to make the transition from journalism to government service, I got a piece of advice from Warren Olney. When there’s a crisis, he said, be sure to advocate for the maximum release of information and the minimum delay. What I took from him was this: Be straight with reporters. Don’t try to fool us. Tell the truth – as much of it as you can. And let us know when you’ll be able to say more.
That advice has guided me for the past decade and a half, and I’ve rarely regretted it. I find reporters to be just like most other people: They want to feel as if they’re being treated fairly, and they want to know that the person on the other end of the phone line or e-mail chain cares about their request. Too many are used to being ignored, or disparaged. When their work is taken seriously, they tend to place subjects in a fair light. Granted, those of us on the other side might want more than that – but it’s about all we’ve got a right to expect.