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October 26, 2005

The First Question To Ask When a Reporter Calls

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Charmaine, The Dreamer,
Jack, c.1995

"Hello Mr. Journalist from the main stream media, I'm glad you called. Am I a target or a source?" Your Business Blogger has had the misfortune of being both.

But not at the same time, like Karl Rove.

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In any conversation with a reporter you are either Richard Nixon, or Deep Throat -- a target or a source. You are not a friend.

Repeat after me: not a friend.

And it is often difficult to determine hidden agendas. But you can be prepared by knowing what kind of person is on the other end of the phone.

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Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, named his show after his book (for which he received a well deserved $75k book advance). Chris tells us how most reporters get started in their careers.

Their entry-level job begins with covering the police blotter on the night shift. This is where journalists become inhuman.

Whenever there is a tragedy -- a death, a dismemberment, anything that bleeds -- the cub reporter is dispatched to the home of the grieving family.

He knocks on the door of the home of the dead one and secures a picture of the recently deceased from the crying mother/father/widow/spouse/sibling.

"I'm sorry about your dead daughter. Can I have a picture or two of your girl for gawkers and trolls?"

Thank you for the picture. Have a nice day.

Three days later the girl's face in the newspaper looks up from the bottom of a bird cage.

The reporter on the other end of the phone does this for a living. He does not care about you -- only the story -- the journalist soon becomes calloused and cynical. And look for blood even if they have to do the cutting.

Which is (one reason) why the mainstream media hates Karl Rove. He won't bleed.

And reporters hate bloggers: we still have our humanity.


###

Thank you (foot)notes:

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Chris Matthews

Mahablog has updates.

Betsy's Page
rightly asks why?

Pundit Guy
also has questions.

Outside the Beltway has Traffic Jam.

Basil's Blog has Matthews praising Fox.

Mudville Gazette
has Open Post. And while you're there visit Chromed Curses with Casualty Notification Officer. A positive reverse image of a journalist.

WizBang has more links.

Adam's Blog has trackbacks.

The Political Teen
has Open Trackbacks.

Stop the ACLU has mid-week party.

(Something good from print media: Don Suber) writes on perjury.

The Heretic
has cat rove.

Legal Fiction has view from the Left.

Sic Semper Tyrannis says indictments are coming -- Richard Sale is a vector for a source.

Posted by Jack Yoest at October 26, 2005 09:04 PM

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Comments

Good post. I actually tussle a lot about what to write ethically and also for readers. I rememeber that someone with my name was pardoned by President Bush in an absurd case of mistaken identity with liberal bloggers thinking I'd been convicted of dealing LSD and that Bush pardoned because I worked for one of his primary opponents in 2000.

I debated how long to discuss it, and as fun as it was, once the liberal took it back, the posts pretty much ended because even though it would have been fun to milk it, this person was getting
unhelpful publicity that was helping them to move on with their lives.

Posted by: Adam Graham at October 26, 2005 11:38 PM

Thank you for the trackback. I hope people read that letter and can imagine the pain from both sides. We need to support our troops in any way we know how. Thanks again.

Posted by: LL at October 26, 2005 11:53 PM

LL, Your post is the perfect companion to 'Reporters.' I wish I had caught your article earlier -- it would have provided a terrific contrast of who is knocking on the door and why.

It would appear, however, that Divine Providence placed us in sequence on Mudville...

Thanks again,
Jack

Posted by: Jack Yoest at October 27, 2005 12:00 AM

Adam, you are so right. I have Charmaine proof my posts because I also tussle with getting all right. I usually don't on the first pass.

"I've got a blog, and I'm not afraid to use it!" is not always best.

We should try to use our power for good.

I am sorry about the mistaken identity problem/mixup -- what a hassle. That must have been a real story in itself.

Best,
Jack

Posted by: Jack Yoest at October 27, 2005 12:07 AM

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