Re: media (soapbox-ish)
Robert Gerhard (RAGerhard@AOL.COM)
Thu, 5 Feb 1998 13:01:48 EST
In a message dated 98-02-05 11:48:14 EST, you write:
<< Oh no, this is unwittingly about the the worst advice that has been posted
yet on the subject of getting media attention. I am sure it was not
intentional, but here's a warning.
If the press or media think you are trying to manipulate them into covering
only what you want them to see, they are likely to turn around and walk
away leaving you cold. I am speaking as a Cubmaster and newspaperman.>>
Having spent the better part of 20 years in the media, my experience has been
just the opposite in situations as this. The point of having the photog there
in the first place was to show one of the fun, exciting Cub Scout things we
do. Playing with a GigaPet is something every kid can and does do everywhere.
>From a Scouting point of view, what value is that photo as a recruiting tool?
Most media people are sensitive and supportive of Scouting and - if they're
going to run a picture anyway - will accomodate our needs and wishes. In
fact, most professional media people I've worked with - and as a media person
myself - the first question asked is, "Okay, what are we doing here?" Sure,
it was a cute picture, but what value was it to either Scouting or the paper?
Anybody could have taken a picture of any kid with a toy on any day. The
point the paper missed is that THIS day there were CUBS having a PINEWOOD
DERBY. In fact, the caption even mentioned the Pinewood Derby, so why not
support that with the photo?
<< It gives them the impression there are aspects of Scouting that should not
receive coverage. Reflect on what impression that gives. I know it is not
true and you know it is not true. But if you try and tell a newspaper
photographer what kind of event or scene can and cannot be photographed,
you are cooking your own goose.
Scouts must learn to deal with the media on its own terms, >
No, Scouts must learn how to stage "media events" and manipulate the media
just as every other major organization (which still receive ample coverage)
does. Okay, maybe that's a little sternly worded, but that's the effect. It
is a symbiotic relationship in which both sides have an agenda. In this case,
both agendas could have been better met.
I doubt that the photog would have gotten the impression you suggest if
someone involved asked him to take pictures of the boys and their cars, or the
race. After all, that's why s/he was there!
Also, we don't know that the photog wasn't asked or didn't take a picture of
the race. Perhaps this was just a poor editing decision, in which case the
arguement goes higher up the ladder. Whatever the case, you cannot convince
me that a picture of the race itself would not have made an equal or better
impact than the picture the paper ran, either for Scouting or the paper.
<< The media is under constant attack today, and although that usually means
the big national media, I assure you even the small town papers which do
not deserve it are feeling the heat because people love to pick on the
nearest target. When faced by a Scouter, or anybody from a community group,
trying to tell them what they cannot do, they are likely to just go away.>>
Or, they can comply with the request and circumvent the barrage of criticism.
We're not talking about covering up the dark underbelly of Scouting here,
we're talking about asking a paper to print a picture of the event they were
invited to cover. As a Scouter, I don't think it's too much to ask for. As a
media guy, I don't think it's too much to expect or do.
There is also the larger matter of filler. Sure, there are seemingly endless
sources of filler, but start upsetting them or stop meeting their needs and
those sources will shrink. And this is my major point - it was a piece of
fluff. What would it have hurt to have a picture that would have had a more
positive impact for Scouting? As a media guy I know how easy it is to frown
and say, "You'll get what I give you. I'm the pro and I know what needs to be
done." But I also know how smiling and saying, "Sure, we can do that"
increases the bottom line. Plus, for that little bit of extra work you have a
good relationship that just may eventually help a lot.
<< You would not go into a doctor's office and begin to tell him how to fix a
arm, but the same people somehow think they can tell newspapers what they
can and cannot do, what kidn of picture their editors ought to be runing,
ewven which boys should be in the picture.>>
You wouldn't tell the doctor which bones hurt? You wouldn't tell him what
part of your body needs the most attention? In the end, it's about
compromise. You tell the media people what you're doing and what you'd like
to see covered. They take that into consideration and try their best to make
you happy - especially if they're in the declining newspaper industry - while
still meeting their needs, knowing that you'll sell many, many papers for them
through word of mouth.
<< I think a picture of two Scouts playing with a GigaPet is great. The
photographer's job is to get an interesting picture, not specifically to
take the picture you think he should take. Some photographers have gone to
Pinewood Derby races for years, and they are trying to find a new angle
every time. (I know this from experience.) >>
I have to disagree. The photographer's job is to convey to me what happened
at that event - what the focus was - in an interesting, attention getting way
while supporting the (albeit miniscule) story.
I think it's great we got kids in uniforms - very good looking, proper
uniforms I might add - in print. But as a Scouter - and as a reader - I don't
really care how many times the photographer has been to the event. This is
the first time I've seen the coverage, and that's what counts - the impression
it will make in this issue. For me, it left a bad impression of the paper and
not such a great impression of Scouting.
Pack 83, Ft. Worth, Tx.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City