Reporters get blamed enough for inaccuracies in news stories–sometimes rightly so.
Most Publicity Hounds don’t know, however, that mistakes in print and broadcast stories are often caused by other people in the newsroom. So if you don’t like what you see, don’t call the reporter and start screaming into the phone. Find out who committed the error and complain to the guilty party. Here’s a list of things the reporter is often NOT responsible for:
–The headline. Reporters seldom write their own headlines. Copy editors write them. If you have a gripe with the headline, call the copy desk.
–Photo captions. Copy editors usually write these, too.
–Unflattering photos. Photographers, photo editors or copy editors usually decide which photos to use.
–Teasers. If you see a front-page item that teases a story in an upcoming edition, or a “live at 11” teaser on TV that’s inaccurate, call the media outlet and ask who wrote it.
–Editorials. If a newspaper prints an editorial unfavorable to your cause or issue, don’t berate the reporter who wrote the original story. Editorials are written by editorial writers or members of the newspaper’s editorial board. If you don’t like an editorial, you have the option of responding with a letter to the editor.
If any of these mistakes happen to you, please don’t punish reporters by giving your news tips to the competition, or by refusing to talk to them again. It can come back to haunt you later. Remember, never fight with people who buy their ink by the barrel.
Newspaper editorial boards should be one of your prime targets if you are mustering media support for a particular cause or issue, or if you’re embroiled in a bad-news story and you want to explain your side to the key decision-makers at the paper. Learn all about editorial boards, how they can help you, when not to use the board, how to ask for a meeting, what you must do before you meet, and how to convince them to support your cause or issue. “See Special Report #33: How
to Win the Support and Respect of Newspaper Editorial Boards