What should you do if you suspect that a journalist is giving your story unfair or biased treatment?
If you think a reporter is ignoring your story or giving it unfair treatment because it appeals to a conservative audience, and the reporter is a liberal, or vice versa, don’t just sit by and accept it. Here are five ways to complain:
–First, start with the reporter. State your case and make note of how the reporter responds.
–If you aren’t getting anywhere, ask for the name of the reporter’s boss and complain again. Be sure to explain exactly what it is that you want the media outlet to do. Remember that everybody works for somebody, so keep going up the ladder, all the way to the publisher of a newspaper or the general manager of a TV station, if you must.
–If your beef is against a larger newspaper, ask if the paper has an ombudsman, whose job it is to handle reader complaints.
–Write a letter to the editor and ask that the paper print it. Unfortunately, you don’t have this same option at TV stations.
–Without complaining, try pitching the story to another reporter and see what happens. Stories about religion are often the biggest challenge. That’s because, according to the Pew study, journalists are much more secular than the public at large. One of Pew’s sharpest findings this year was that while 58 percent of the general public holds that one must believe in God to be a truly “moral” person, only 6 percent of national journalists feel that way, and 18 percent among the local press.
If you’re mad, here’s what NOT to do.
–You can cancel your newspaper subscription. But don’t threaten to pull your advertising to retaliate. This ploy never works. Besides, if you pull your ad, it can do more harm than good.
–Don’t refuse comment if the same newspaper calls you to comment on a different story. “No comment” often backfires and makes you look guilty.
If the reporter agrees to print a story, it may be time for damage control. Learn 17 things you can do “Special Report #1: Damage Control: How to Keep the Media from making a Mess of Your Story.”